The laws of physics as we know them cease to apply to black holes in their deepest regions. Large quantities of matter and energy concentrate in a gravitational singularity, where space-time curves towards infinity and all matter is destroyed. Or is it? A recent study suggests that matter might in fact survive its foray into these space objects and come out the other side.
On 14 September 2015, gravitational waves produced by a pair of merging black holes gently rattled space-time in the vicinity of Earth. Less than half a second later, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope picked up a brief, weak burst of high-energy light consistent with the same part of the sky. Analysis of this burst suggests that the events are connected.
The latest results from the “Cheshire Cat” group of galaxies 4.6 billion light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major show how manifestations of Einstein’s 100-year-old Theory of General Relativity can lead to new discoveries today. Astronomers have given the group this name because of its resemblance to the smiling feline from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
When a star collapses forming a black hole, a space-time singularity is created wherein the laws of physics no longer work. In 1965, Sir Roger Penrose presented a theorem where he associated that singularity with so-called ”trapped surfaces” that shrink over time. That hypothesis — one of the results of the general theory of relativity — is now celebrating its 50th anniversary.
There may be fewer pairs of supermassive black holes orbiting each other at the cores of giant galaxies than previously thought, according to a new study. When two massive galaxies harbouring supermassive black holes collide, their black holes ultimately combine — a process that could be the strongest source of elusive gravitational waves, still yet to be directly detected.