[Paleopsych] Nature: Black holes 'do not exist'
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Tue Apr 12 19:51:53 UTC 2005
Black holes 'do not exist': These mysterious objects are dark-energy
stars, physicist claims.
Published online: 31 March 2005
These mysterious objects are dark-energy stars, physicist claims.
Black holes are staples of science fiction and many think astronomers
have observed them indirectly. But according to a physicist at the
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, these awesome
breaches in space-time do not and indeed cannot exist.
Over the past few years, observations of the motions of galaxies have
shown that some 70% the Universe seems to be composed of a strange
'dark energy' that is driving the Universe's accelerating expansion.
George Chapline thinks that the collapse of the massive stars, which
was long believed to generate black holes, actually leads to the
formation of stars that contain dark energy. "It's a near certainty
that black holes don't exist," he claims.
Black holes are one of the most celebrated predictions of Einstein's
general theory of relativity, which explains gravity as the warping of
space-time caused by massive objects. The theory suggests that a
sufficiently massive star, when it dies, will collapse under its own
gravity to a single point.
But Einstein didn't believe in black holes, Chapline argues.
"Unfortunately", he adds, "he couldn't articulate why." At the root of
the problem is the other revolutionary theory of twentieth-century
physics, which Einstein also helped to formulate: quantum mechanics.
In general relativity, there is no such thing as a 'universal time'
that makes clocks tick at the same rate everywhere. Instead, gravity
makes clocks run at different rates in different places. But quantum
mechanics, which describes physical phenomena at infinitesimally small
scales, is meaningful only if time is universal; if not, its equations
make no sense.
This problem is particularly pressing at the boundary, or event
horizon, of a black hole. To a far-off observer, time seems to stand
still here. A spacecraft falling into a black hole would seem, to
someone watching it from afar, to be stuck forever at the event
horizon, although the astronauts in the spacecraft would feel as if
they were continuing to fall. "General relativity predicts that
nothing happens at the event horizon," says Chapline.
However, as long ago as 1975 quantum physicists argued that strange
things do happen at an event horizon: matter governed by quantum laws
becomes hypersensitive to slight disturbances. "The result was quickly
forgotten," says Chapline, "because it didn't agree with the
prediction of general relativity. But actually, it was absolutely
This strange behaviour, he says, is the signature of a 'quantum phase
transition' of space-time. Chapline argues that a star doesn't simply
collapse to form a black hole; instead, the space-time inside it
becomes filled with dark energy and this has some intriguing
Outside the 'surface' of a dark-energy star, it behaves much like a
black hole, producing a strong gravitational tug. But inside, the
'negative' gravity of dark energy may cause matter to bounce back out
If the dark-energy star is big enough, Chapline predicts, any
electrons bounced out will have been converted to positrons, which
then annihilate other electrons in a burst of high-energy radiation.
Chapline says that this could explain the radiation observed from the
centre of our galaxy, previously interpreted as the signature of a
huge black hole.
He also thinks that the Universe could be filled with 'primordial'
dark-energy stars. These are formed not by stellar collapse but by
fluctuations of space-time itself, like blobs of liquid condensing
spontaneously out of a cooling gas. These, he suggests, could be stuff
that has the same gravitational effect as normal matter, but cannot be
seen: the elusive substance known as dark matter.
1. Chapline G. Arxiv, http://xxx.arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0503200
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