The blue light in Jeff Steinhauer’s lab (pictured above) is coming from a sonic black hole he created.
His lab-scale black hole may prove that Hawking radiation exists, which would finally after 42 years put to rest the conflict between two theories about how black holes work.
Some think nothing can escape black holes once it has been pulled in. But, Stephen Hawking had a theory in 1974 that challenged this idea. His calculations suggested that black holes can radiate some particles back out into space. But, checking these calculations is difficult, so it remained a theory until now. One physicist has come close to proving that Hawking was right.
The physicist is Jeff Steinhauer at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He has single-handedly created a method to prove the theory by recreating a black hole in his lab, and tested it 4,600 times. And he did it in only seven years!
M106 is a Seyfert-Class galaxy, meaning a vast amount of its glowing gas is collapsing into a central black hole. pic.twitter.com/hmU5PI7JCU
— Millennium Astronomy (@astromillennium) August 26, 2016
In his lab simulation, he made a black hole that sucks in sound. He shot a laser of atoms faster than the speed of sound into an environment cooled to nearly absolute zero, to show that sound would have a difficult time moving through.
- Steinhauer explained that this simulation is like swimming against the current of a river.
- If the current is faster than you, then you feel like you’re swimming forward, but you’re actually being pushed back.
- That means the sound wave in the experiment isn’t being swallowed by the black hole, it is being pushed out–like Hawking’s theory suggested it would.
Steinhauer said “What I saw suggests that a real black hole might emit something.”
The research isn’t yet published, but it is now being peer reviewed. Some reactions have been positive, others have been critical.
In the end, if others can recreate his findings and confirm the results, Stephen Hawking might finally win a Nobel Prize!