The objects scientists think are black holes could instead be wormholes leading to other universes, a new study says. If so, it would help resolve a quantum conundrum known as the black hole information paradox, but critics say it would also raise new problems, such as how the wormholes would form in the first place.
A black hole is an object with such a powerful gravitational field that nothing, not even light, can escape it if it strays within a boundary known as the event horizon. Einstein's theory of general relativity says black holes should form whenever matter is squeezed into a small enough space.
Though black holes are not seen directly, astronomers have identified many objects that appear to be black holes based on observations of how matter swirls around them.
But physicists Thibault Damour of the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in Bures-sur-Yvette, France, and Sergey Solodukhin of International University Bremen in Germany now say that these objects could be structures called wormholes instead.
Wormholes are warps in the fabric of space-time that connect one place to another. If you imagine the universe as a two-dimensional sheet, you can picture a wormhole as a "throat" connecting our sheet to another one. In this scenario, the other sheet could be a universe of its own, with its own stars, galaxies and planets.
Damour and Solodukhin studied what such a wormhole might look like, and were surprised to discover that it would mimic a black hole so well that it would be virtually impossible to tell the difference.
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News source: NewScientist.com