Black Hole Secrets Revealed: Nested Stars and Cosmic Conundrums

Black Hole Secrets Revealed Nested Stars and Cosmic Conundrums

Black Hole Secrets Revealed: Nested Stars and Cosmic Conundrums

Once hypothetical monsters born in a tangled nest of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, black holes are now recognized as bona fide celestial objects as real as stars, moons, and galaxies. However, their engines remain as mysterious as when the German theoretical physicist Karl Schwarzschild first toyed with Einstein’s field equations and concluded that space and time could pucker up into pits of no return.

Physicists Daniel Jampolski and Luciano Rezzolla from Goethe University Frankfurt have revisited the equations describing black holes and have formulated a solution that’s easier to picture, though no less bizarre. Where traditional depictions of black holes contain a mess of contradictory physics at their cores, Jampolski and Rezzolla have proposed a unique twist: a gravitationally-confined ‘bubble’ of material, potentially containing a series of nested bubbles within.

“It’s great that even 100 years after Schwarzschild presented his first solution to Einstein’s field equations from the general theory of relativity, it’s still possible to find new solutions,” says Rezzolla. “It’s a bit like finding a gold coin along a path that has been explored by many others before.”

Black holes conceal a dirty secret of physics. If enough stuff is shoved into a space described by what’s known as a Schwarzschild radius, gravity will overcome all other forces and pull that mass into a much, much smaller space. However, the equations can’t precisely describe what happens at the other end of that compression. As we zoom in on ever smaller distances, quantum physics becomes increasingly important, leaving a big question mark over what happens to matter when gravity squishes it beyond a certain point.

Adding to the challenge, the existence of objects that can both send information on a one-way trip into cosmic jail and evaporate in a steady glow of heat known as Hawking radiation presents a physics-breaking paradox. In 2001, quantum physicist Pawel Mazur and astrophysicist Emil Mottola proposed a solution to avoid these dead ends: the gravitational condensate star, or gravastar. This hypothetical construct describes a film of matter compressed to near-impossible thinness, inflated from within by dark energy.

Jampolski and Rezzolla found it was possible for a gravastar with a slightly thicker membrane to balance a second gravastar within. Similarly, that second nested gravastar could be pregnant with its own exotic shell of highly compressed matter, forming what they call a “nestar.”

“The nestar is like a matryoshka doll,” says Jampolski, who developed the solution under Rezzolla’s supervision.

Inventing cosmic beasts out of the shadows cast by pure theory might sound whimsical, but this is how black holes were identified in the first place. Importantly, finding the limits of what a theory can suggest might lead to observations that solve the black hole’s most vexing conundrums.

“Unfortunately, we still have no idea how such a gravastar could be created,” says Rezzolla. “But even if nestars don’t exist, exploring the mathematical properties of these solutions ultimately helps us to better understand black holes”.

Source: Black Hole Secrets Revealed: Nested Stars and Cosmic Conundrums

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