The epic collision of two neutron stars in 2017 was a real treat for astronomers. When the stars merged, gravitational waves spread throughout the entire universe. And recently, scientists have found that echoes of this event may confirm the long-standing hypothesis of black holes.
Astronomers studying data from gravitational waves believe they have found evidence of echoes - a phenomenon that could only happen in the presence of the so-called "quantum fluff" created by Hawking radiation.
“According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, nothing can escape from the gravity of a black hole when it passes the point of no return known as the event horizon. Scientists believed this for a long time, until Stephen Hawking used quantum mechanics to predict that quantum particles would slowly flow out of black holes. This is what we call Hawking radiation today, explained astronomer and physicist Nyaesh Afshordi of the University of Waterloo in Canada.
The most famous property of black holes is their extreme gravity. It is so intense that no object in the world can develop sufficient speed to overcome it. Even the fastest thing in the universe - electromagnetic radiation - cannot escape.
However, quantum mechanics assumes that a certain type of radiation from black holes does exist. A superheavy black hole should provoke the emission of ultra-low-frequency energy waves, which means that the holes themselves gradually "evaporate". This helps resolve the so-called black hole paradox. The source of this radiation is the so-called quantum fluff, distributed around the event horizon.
According to Ashfordi, it is precisely this circumstance that will allow obtaining a set of unique information about the structure of black dykes. “Previously, all this could not be verified experimentally, we worked only with beautiful theories. However, if quantum fluff really exists, then gravitational waves will reflect from it, generating new waves of lower intensity, like repeating echoes,”explains the scientist.
This is exactly what astronomers discovered by studying the echoes of gravitational waves that propagated through the universe after the collision of two neutron stars. However, the team recognizes that the detectors are far from perfect, and the signals they find may be common "noise." However, now researchers have got their hands on a simple and convenient tool with which they can open the veil of secrecy around black holes - so there are still many interesting discoveries awaiting us in the future.