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Scientists created a black hole in a unique lab experiment, then it started to glow

This experiment can be used to answer questions scientists have been seeking answers to for years.

Scientists created a black hole in a unique lab experiment, then it started to glow
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 17, 2022. It has since been updated.

Black holes have long fascinated both scientists and the general public. While scientists grapple with finding new information about these regions in our universe, we all are forever fascinated by this concept of science. In a revolutionary experiment, scientists have successfully created a black hole replica, potentially answering several key questions about this cosmic phenomenon, according to Science Alert.

A team of scientists observed the equivalent of Hawking radiation using a chain of atoms in a single file to recreate the event horizon of a black hole. Hawking radiation describes hypothetical particles created by the boundary of a black hole. This radiation reportedly suggests that the temperatures of black holes are inversely proportional to their mass. In simpler words, the smaller the black hole, the hotter it will glow. 


Scientists believe this discovery could help reconcile the currently incompatible theories of the universe: the general theory of relativity, which sees gravity as a continuous field known as spacetime, and quantum mechanics, which describes the behavior of particles using probability mathematics.

This is where black holes come in. They are so dense that nothing can return from beyond a certain distance of a black hole's center of mass. This distance—which varies depending on the mass of the black hole—is called the event horizon. We can only speculate on what occurs once an item reaches its border because nothing returns with essential information on its fate. Assuming Hawking radiation exists, it is far too weak for humans to detect at this time. It's possible that we'll never be able to separate it from the universe's crackling static. However, we may investigate its features in laboratory conditions by producing black hole analogs.


While similar experiments have been conducted before, this unique approach by Lotte Mertens and her team at the University of Amsterdam stands out. They created a kind of event horizon that interfered with the wave-like nature of the electrons. According to the scientists, the action of this simulated event horizon created a temperature rise that matched theoretical expectations of a comparable black hole system, but only when part of the chain stretched beyond the event horizon. 


It might imply that the entanglement of particles across the event horizon plays a role in the generation of Hawking radiation. The simulated Hawking radiation was only thermal over a limited range of hop amplitudes and under simulations that began by mimicking a "flat" spacetime. This shows that Hawking radiation may only be thermal under some circumstances and when the warp of space-time changes owing to gravity.

It seems to be unclear what this means for quantum gravity, but the model provides a tool to explore the genesis of Hawking radiation in an environment unaffected by the chaotic dynamics of black hole creation. Furthermore, since it is so basic, it may be used in a variety of experimental setups. The researchers wrote, "This can open a venue for exploring fundamental quantum-mechanical aspects alongside gravity and curved spacetimes in various condensed matter settings."

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