“Loop quantum gravity” may finally explain black holes
Science can’t explain what happens in a black hole; the laws of physics literally break down beyond their event horizons. Now, we may finally have an explanation.
Black holes are scary, massive, fascination things. They are the embodiment of a superlative, and contain so much mass that their gravitational pull even keeps light from escaping and holds the structure of entire galaxies together. For such a powerful phenomena however, we sure don’t know much about them: We can’t explain what goes on inside a black hole, because all of our physical laws break down when we try to explain it.
In short, black holes are created when particularly massive stars at the end of their life-cycle collapse under their own gravity. The entire mass of the star falls down into itself, compressing until all the matter is in a single point; the singularity. With mass situated in a single point, the object becomes infinitely dense, and general relativity suggests the gravity of the object at the point becomes infinite too. Many scientists however, dispute this idea, saying that the singularity probably doesn’t exist, but that our physical theories are incomplete and can’t accurately explain what really happens.
So, Einstein’s general theory of relativity begins colliding with quantum theory in a black hole, and the equations begin spitting out infinities. Up until now, that was pretty much where you had to put down your pen, shrug, and go grab something from the fridge, but finally, advanced physicists are bridging the gap between relativity and quantum theory.
What you’re looking at is a black hole, and the gravitational lensing caused by light bending around it.
Scientists have recently applied something called “loop quantum gravity” to black holes, and their calculations predict that while space-time indeed is very curved in the hole, gravity, as predicted by relativity, is not infinite. This is the first time the loop quantum gravity theory has been tested on black holes, and the researchers report that the findings are encouraging.
“What they have done is a major step, because they have been able to provide a much more complete description of what really happens near the black hole singularity using loop quantum gravity,” said Abhay Ashtekar, a physicist at Pennsylvania State University, not involved in the research.”We still don’t have a clear picture of the details of what happens. So it is opening a new door that other people will follow.”