Scientists created a black hole in the lab, and then it started glowing: ScienceAlert

A new kind of black hole analog could tell us a thing or two about an elusive radiation theoretically emitted from the real thing.

Using a chain of atoms in a single row to simulate a black hole’s event horizon, a team of physicists has observed the equivalent of what we call Hawking radiation: particles that arise from perturbations in the quantum fluctuations caused by the rupture. of the black hole in spacetime.

This, they say, could help resolve the tension between two currently incompatible frameworks for describing the Universe: general relativity, which describes the behavior of gravity as a continuous field known as spacetime; and quantum mechanics, which describes the behavior of individual particles using the mathematics of probability.

For a unified theory of quantum gravity to be universally applicable, these two immiscible theories must somehow get along.

This is where black holes come in – possibly the weirdest, most extreme objects in the universe. These massive objects are so incredibly dense that within a certain distance of the black hole’s center of mass, no velocity in the universe is sufficient for them to escape. Not even light speed.

That distance, varying depending on the mass of the black hole, is called the event horizon. Once an object crosses its boundary, we can only imagine what happens since nothing returns with vital information about its fate. But in 1974, Stephen Hawking proposed that interruptions of quantum fluctuations caused by the event horizon result in a kind of radiation very similar to thermal radiation.

If this Hawking radiation exists, it is much too faint for us to detect. We may never filter it out of the hissing noise of the universe. But we can investigate its properties by making black hole analogs in laboratory settings.

This has been done before, but now a team led by Lotte Mertens from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands has done something new.

A one-dimensional chain of atoms served as the path for electrons to ‘jump’ from one position to another. By tuning the ease with which this hopping can occur, the physicists can cause certain properties to disappear, effectively creating a kind of event horizon that interferes with the wave-like nature of the electrons.

The effect of this mock event horizon caused a rise in temperature that matched theoretical expectations of an equivalent black hole system, the team said: but only when part of the chain extended beyond the event horizon.

This could mean that the entanglement of particles extending across the event horizon plays an important role in the generation of Hawking radiation.

The simulated Hawking radiation was only thermal for a certain range of jump amplitudes, and under simulations that started mimicking a kind of spacetime considered “flat.” This suggests that Hawking radiation can only be thermal in a range of situations, and when there is a change in the curvature of space-time due to gravity.

It’s unclear what this means for quantum gravity, but the model offers a way to study the emergence of Hawking radiation in an environment unaffected by the wild dynamics of black hole formation. And because it’s so simple, it can be used in a wide variety of experimental setups, the researchers said.

“This may open a site for exploring fundamental quantum mechanical aspects beyond gravity and warped spacetimes in different condensed matter conditions,” the researchers write.

The research has been published in Physical assessment examination.

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