Professor of Physics at UMass Dartmouth, Gaurav Khanna
Using a black hole as a doorway to another dimension, time, or space is one of the most beloved science fiction situations. That fantasy could be closer to reality than we thought.
Perhaps the most intriguing things in the universe are black holes. They are the result of gravity crushing a dying star to infinity, resulting in the production of a genuine singularity — an entity with infinite density formed when a whole star is crushed down to a single point.
This massive and hot singularity tears a hole in the fabric of spacetime itself, perhaps allowing hyperspace travel. That is a shortcut across spacetime that allows for rapid movement over cosmic scale distances.
Researchers originally believed that any spacecraft attempting to exploit a black hole as a gateway would be confronted with nature at its worst. The spaceship would be subjected to a series of progressively painful tidal stretching and squeezing until being fully annihilated by the hot and dense singularity.
Getting sucked into a black hole.
My colleagues and I at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Georgia Gwinnett College have demonstrated that not all black holes are created equal.
If a black hole is big and revolving, such as Sagittarius A* at the core of our galaxy, the prognosis for a spacecraft alters considerably. Because the singularity with which a spaceship would have to fight is quite benign, a tranquil trip might be possible.
This is conceivable because the relevant singularity within a revolving black hole is technically “weak,” meaning it does not harm things that contact with it. This information may appear counterintuitive at first. However, it is comparable to the usual sensation of swiftly passing one’s finger through a near 2,000-degree flame without being burnt.
For nearly two decades, my colleague Lior Burko and I have been studying the physics of black holes. Inspired by Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster film “Interstellar,” my Ph.D. student Caroline Mallary set out to see if Cooper (Matthew McConaughey’s character) could survive his fall deep into Gargantua – a fictional supermassive, rapidly rotating black hole with a mass 100 million times that of our sun.
Gargantua’s physical features are important to the narrative of the Hollywood film “Interstellar,” which was based on a book authored by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Kip Thorne.
Mallary constructed a computer model that captured most of the important physical impacts on a spaceship, or any significant object, going into a huge, revolving black hole like Sagittarius A*, based on work done by physicist Amos Ori two decades before and equipped with her great computing talents.
In the film ‘Interstellar,’ the fictitious Miller’s planet orbits the black hole Gargantua.
There wasn’t even a rough ride?
She discovered that an item falling into a revolving black hole will not have indefinitely massive effects upon passing through the hole’s so-called inner horizon singularity under any circumstances.
An item entering a revolving black hole cannot move around or avoid this singularity. Not only that, given the correct circumstances, these consequences may be negligible, allowing for a relatively painless journey to the singularity.
In reality, the falling item may have no discernible consequences. This makes huge, spinning black holes more feasible as gateways for hyperspace travel.
Mallary also uncovered a previously overlooked feature: the singularity’s consequences in the setting of a revolving black hole will result in fast escalating cycles of stretching and squeezing on the spacecraft.
However, the power of this impact would be negligible for really big black holes like Gargantua. As a result, neither the spaceship nor the people on board would be aware of it.
Even if the forces on the spacecraft tend to expand forever as it approaches the black hole, the important thing is that these effects do not increase eternally.
In the context of Mallary’s approach, there are a few key simplifying assumptions and resulting drawbacks. The fundamental assumption is that the black hole in question is entirely isolated and hence not exposed to continual disruptions from a source such as another nearby star or even falling radiation.
While this assumption allows for significant simplifications, it is vital to remember that most black holes are surrounded by cosmic stuff such as dust, gas, and radiation.
As a result, performing a comparative analysis in the context of a more realistic astrophysical black hole would be a natural extension of Mallary’s work.
Mallary’s method of examining the effects of a black hole on an item using a computer simulation is fairly prevalent in the field of black hole physics.
Because we don’t currently have the technology to conduct genuine experiments in or near black holes, scientists must rely on theory and simulations to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon and make predictions and new findings.