Scientists Create and Illuminate a Black Hole in Laboratory Simulation: ScienceAlert

An elusive radiation that is theoretically emitted by black holes could be better understood through the use of a black hole analog.

In 2022, a team of physicists utilized a chain of single-filed atoms to mimic the event horizon of a black hole. This led to the observation of the equivalent of Hawking radiation, which is composed of particles born from disturbances in quantum fluctuations caused by the break in spacetime due to the black hole. This finding has potential implications for reconciling the tension between the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, two currently irreconcilable frameworks for describing the Universe.

Black holes, being the weirdest and most extreme objects in the Universe, could hold the key to a unified theory of quantum gravity. These massive objects are so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape beyond a certain distance known as the event horizon. Stephen Hawking proposed in 1974 that interruptions to quantum fluctuations caused by the event horizon result in a type of radiation similar to thermal radiation, known as Hawking radiation.

While Hawking radiation is currently too faint to be detected, research on black hole analogs in laboratory settings offers insights into its properties. In November 2022, a team led by Lotte Mertens of the University of Amsterdam succeeded in creating a one-dimensional chain of atoms that served as a black hole analog.

The team observed that the simulated Hawking radiation was thermal within a certain range of conditions, indicating that the entanglement of particles straddling the event horizon may be instrumental in generating this radiation. The research’s publication in Physical Review Research paves the way for further exploration of fundamental quantum-mechanical aspects alongside gravity and curved spacetimes in various condensed matter settings.

This version of the article was first published in November 2022.


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