Monday, January 18




Are some black holes wormholes in disguise? Gamma-ray blasts may shed clues.

Unusual flashes of gamma rays could reveal that what appear to be giant black holes are actually huge wormholes, a new study finds.

Wormholes are tunnels in space-time that can theoretically allow travel anywhere in space and time, or even into another universe. Einstein’s theory of general relativity suggests wormholes are possible, although whether they really exist is another matter.

In many ways, wormholes resemble black holes. Both kinds of objects are extremely dense and possess extraordinarily strong gravitational pulls for bodies their size. The main difference is that no object can theoretically come back out after crossing a black hole’s event horizon — the threshold where the speed needed to escape the black hole’s gravitational pull exceeds the speed of light — whereas any body entering a wormhole could theoretically reverse course.

Assuming wormholes might exist, researchers investigated ways that one might distinguish a wormhole from a black hole. They focused on supermassive black holes with masses millions to billions of times that of the sun, which are thought to dwell at the hearts of most, if not all, galaxies. For example, at the center of our Milky Way galaxy lies Sagittarius A*, a monster black hole that is about 4.5 million solar masses in size.

Anything entering one mouth of a wormhole would exit out its other mouth. The scientists reasoned that meant that matter entering one mouth of a wormhole could potentially slam into matter entering the other mouth of the wormhole at the same time, a kind of event that would never happen with a black hole.

Any matter falling into a mouth of a supermassive wormhole would likely travel at extraordinarily high speeds due to its powerful gravitational fields. The scientists modeled the consequences of matter flowing through both mouths of a wormhole to where these mouths meet, the wormhole’s “throat.” The result of such collisions are spheres of plasma expanding out both mouths of the wormhole at nearly the speed of light, the researchers said.

“What surprises me most of all is that no one has proposed this idea before, because it is rather simple,” study lead author Mikhail Piotrovich, an astrophysicist at the Central Astronomical Observatory in Saint Petersburg, Russia, told

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