Hypothetical bridges connecting distant regions of space (and time) may look more or less like black holes in the garden, meaning it’s possible these mythical beasts of physics have already been seen.
But if a new model proposed by a small team of physicists from Sofia University in Bulgaria is correct, there is fortunately still a way to tell them apart.
If you play with Einstein’s general theory of relativity long enough, it’s possible to show how the space-time background of the universe can not only form deep gravitational pits from which nothing escapes – it can also form impossible mountain peaks that cannot be climbed.
Unlike their dark cousins, these glowing mounds would eschew anything that approached, potentially spewing out streams of particles and radiation that had no hope of ever returning.
Other than the distinct possibility that the Big Bang looks exactly like one of these “white holes,” none of it has ever been observed. Nevertheless, they remain an interesting concept for exploring the edges of one of the greatest theories in physics.
In the 1930s, a colleague of Einstein’s named Nathan Rosen showed that there was nothing to say that the deeply curved space-time of a black hole could not connect to the steep tops of a white hole to form a kind of bridge. to shape.
In this corner of physics, our day-to-day expectations about distance and time go out the window, meaning that such a theoretical link could cross large swathes of the cosmos.
Under the right conditions, it might even be possible for matter to travel through this cosmic tube and emerge on the other side with information more or less intact.
To determine what this butt-hole black hole might look like to observatories like the Event Horizon Telescope, the team from Sofia University developed a simplified model of a wormhole’s “throat” as a magnetized ring of fluid, and did different assumptions about how matter would encircle it before being swallowed.
Particles caught in this raging maelstrom would produce powerful electromagnetic fields that would roll and snap in predictable patterns, polarizing any light emitted by the heated material with a distinct signature. It was the tracing of polarized radio waves that gave us the first stunning images of M87* in 2019 and Sagittarius A* earlier this year.
The red-hot lips of a typical wormhole, it turns out, are difficult to distinguish from the polarized light emitted by the swirling disk of chaos surrounding a black hole.
By that logic, M87* could very well be a wormhole. In fact, there could be wormholes lurking everywhere at the ends of black holes, and we wouldn’t be able to figure them out easily.
That’s not to say there’s no way to know at all.
If we were lucky enough to piece together an image of a candidate wormhole as seen indirectly through a decent gravitational lens, subtle features that distinguish wormholes from black holes might become apparent.
This would require a conveniently placed mass between us and the wormhole to distort the light enough to naturally magnify the small differences, but at least it would give us a way to confidently see which dark spots of emptiness have a decline.
There is another remedy, one that also requires a good dose of fortune. If we saw a wormhole at the perfect angle, the signature of light traveling toward us through the gaping entrance would be amplified even further, giving us a clearer indication of a gateway through the stars and beyond.
Further modeling could reveal other features of light waves that help filter out wormholes from the night sky without the need for lenses or perfect angles, a possibility the researchers are now turning their attention to.
Placing further constraints on wormhole physics could reveal new avenues for exploring not only general relativity, but also the physics that describe the behavior of waves and particles.
Beyond that, lessons learned from such predictions could reveal where general relativity collapses, and open some holes of its own to make bold new discoveries that could give us an entirely new way of seeing the cosmos.
This research was published in Physical assessment D.