Using a single-row string of atoms to simulate the event horizon of a black hole, a team of physicists from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, observed the equivalent of what we call Hawking radiationwhich are particles born from perturbations in the quantum fluctuations caused by the black hole rupture in space-time.
According to this research, published in Physical Review Research and cited in Science Alertthis new type of black hole analogs could make revelations about the elusive radiation theoretically emitted by the real object.
The study could also help resolve the tension between the general theory of relativity, which describes the behavior of gravity as a continuous field known as spacetime, and quantum mechanics, which describes the behavior of discrete particles using the mathematics of probability.
For a unified theory of quantum gravity that can be applied universally, these two immiscible theories need to coincide somehow.
The black hole key to a unified theory
Black holes are so incredibly dense that, within a certain distance from their center of mass, no velocity in the Universe is sufficient to escape, not even that of light.
That distance is called event horizon. Once an object crosses its boundary, we can only imagine what happens, as nothing returns with vital information about its fate..
However, in 1974, Stephen Hawking proposed that interruptions in quantum fluctuations caused by the event horizon result in a type of radiation very similar to thermal radiation..
If this Hawking radiation exists, it is too weak for us to detect yet. We may never separate it from the static hiss of the Universe. Fortunately, scientists tested its properties by creating black hole analogues.
A one-dimensional chain of atoms served as a path for electrons to “jump” from one position to another. By adjusting the ease with which this jump can occur, physicists could make certain properties disappear, effectively creating a kind of event horizon that interferes with the wave nature of electrons.
The effect of this false event horizon produced an increase in temperature that matched theoretical expectations for an equivalent black hole systembut only when part of the chain extended beyond the event horizon.
This could mean that the entanglement of particles straddling the event horizon is critical to generating Hawking radiation. The one simulated by the scientists was only thermal for a certain range of hop amplitudes, suggesting that it can only be thermal in a variety of situations and when there is a change in spacetime warp due to gravity.