Scientists May Have Spotted Ghostly Black Holes From the Universe Before This One

Monday, 27 August 2018 - 12:12PM
Astronomy
Space
Black Holes
Monday, 27 August 2018 - 12:12PM
Scientists May Have Spotted Ghostly Black Holes From the Universe Before This One
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Image Credit: Pixabay + NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA Composite
Have you ever looked up at the stars and wondered which ones are already dead? It's common knowledge that it can take starlight a long time to reach Earth—maybe millions or even billions of years—and that some stars have already collapsed by the time that happens, giving us a window into another time. Well, it turns out that black holes may be able to do something similar—only, instead of giving us a glimpse of another time in this universe, the may allow us to catch a glimpse of a previous one. That's exactly what scientists believe they are observing. First, some background. 

According to physicist Roger Penrose, a former associate of Stephen Hawking, this universe wasn't the first—there were others before this one, and each one had its share of black holes. One of the things that makes black holes special is that they spit out Hawking radiation—a combination of both positive and negative gravitons and photons, half of which escape into the universe and half of which fall back into the black hole, decaying it with their negative mass and energy. The positive gravitons and photons that escape are left to bounce around the stars, but here's the thing: neither photons nor gravitons have mass, allowing them to do some weird things. It's these particles that Penrose believed led to the Big Bang—instead of a singularity, it was really a previous universe's lifetime of Hawking radiation building to the bursting point.

But what about the black holes? Well, it turns out that the decay of those previous black holes may have left a mark on the Cosmic Background Radiation, the echoes of what we call the Big Bang. By scanning certain frequencies, Penrose and his team believe they've found the ghostly after-images of the old universe's black holes, preserved in radiation.

The theory is still highly theoretical, but if it's correct, it'll blow apart everything we know about our universe.



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