Black holes aren’t perfectly black, according to a famous prediction theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking made in 1974 suggesting that they emit radiation. And an experimental physicist from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa may have just proved him right.
In his laboratory, Jeff Steinhauer built a simulation of a black hole using sound waves. And this tabletop model of the cosmic abyss indicates that radiation would be emitted, just as Dr. Hawking predicted decades ago, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Physics.
Some scientists are still skeptical that this feat has been accomplished. But if Dr. Steinhauer has proven that quantum Hawking radiation is possible, as he reports, then theoretical physics may have just taken a leap forward in addressing some of the problems that dog it.
“My work confirms the existence of Hawking radiation,” Steinhauer tells The Christian Science Monitor.
The concept of Hawking radiation arose from a premise of quantum theory, which says that pairs of light particles, photons, are constantly appearing and then immediately disappearing as they cancel each other out. As this supposedly occurs everywhere in space, Hawking pondered what would happen when these pairs spawn along the black hole’s event horizon, the point-of-no return at which the black hole’s escape velocity exceeds the speed of light.
He predicted that for the pair of photons that comes into existence on the event horizon, one photon would end up falling into the black hole while the other would escape out into space. And this separation would cause the black hole to radiate faintly. Read more at CS Monitor.