In every introductory astronomy class, people have been taught that black holes suck up all matter and allow nothing to escape, not even light.
This fact has also been cemented in various science fiction books and films, especially the ones that are based on “real science.” However, it appears that everything we knew to be cool and scary about black holes may just have been an incorrect assumption. An assumption that might make everyone who loves science and science-fiction angry, much like how Pluto was demoted from its “planet” status.
Legendary theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has released a new paper stating that black holes might not exist the way we think they do. The paper, called “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes” has been published on arXiv, but it has yet to go through peer review. Even Hawking, who is one of the most celebrated minds on the planet, must go through the gauntlet of the peer review.
So what does Hawking say about black holes? “The absence of event horizons mean that there are no black holes – in the sense of regimes from which light can’t escape to infinity,” he writes. Instead, black holes have apparent horizons, which can trap light, but not forever like previously thought. The trapped light could possibly escape from its matter-sucking prison.
This new theory poses a lot of new questions, changing the way scientists look at black holes. And maybe this theory will give science fiction writers and scientists alike an even firmer grasp on how to create a scenario for time travel. One theory some people have had for time travel is to go through black holes. The only catch is that up until now, people figured nothing could escape. Now that there’s the possibility of something escaping, who’s to say someone couldn’t figure out how to traverse a black hole and get to the other side? To quote Freakazoid, “The mind boggles.”
What do you think about this new theory? Discuss your reaction to this (or your anger that yet another thing in science has changed) below!
Images: NASA Goddard Photo and Video, NASA/ Paul E. Alers (Flickr Creative Commons)