Researchers detected ripples in space-time caused by the merging of two black holes, proving one of Stephen Hawking’s famous ideas.
The theorem was first proposed in 1971, claiming that a black hole could not shrink in size over time. Einstein’s theory of relativity, which established gravitational waves and black holes, laid the foundation for the theorem.
The black hole area theory has always fascinated physicists since it is based on the same thermodynamic premise that entropy cannot decrease over time. It continues to rise at a steady rate, and new evidence supports this view even more.
The research, lead by Massachusetts Institute of Technology astrophysicist Maximiliano Isi, used data from gravitational waves produced when two black holes merged into one.
They divided the gravitational wave data collected by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) into two groups: before the merger and after the merger. They calculated the surface areas of the black holes in each group using both data.
According to the estimates, the merged black hole’s total surface area was higher than the sum of the two smaller black holes. This finding backs up the area law, which states that the size of black holes does not change over time.
In a statement to Live Science, lead author Maximiliano said, “The surface area of a black hole cannot be reduced, which is similar to the second law of thermodynamics. It also possesses mass conservation, as you can’t diminish its bulk, which is similar to energy conservation.”
The bigger puzzle, according to Space.com, comes when researchers try to combine general relativity and quantum mechanics. All of the rules begin to come apart at this point, and the area law is effectively destroyed.
This is because, according to general relativity, black holes cannot shrink, but they may under quantum mechanics. Hawking also invented the concept of Hawking radiation, in which random quantum phenomena cause a fog of particles to be emitted at the borders of a black hole. This causes the black hole to shrink and disappear over a period of time many times longer than the universe’s age.
This phasing out could take place over long enough timescales to avoid violating the area rule in the short term, which is a tiny consolation for physicists.
Isi continued, “The law is broken statistically over a lengthy period of time. It’s like boiling water: steam is evaporating from your pan, yet if you only look at the receding water inside of it, you could be tempted to conclude that the pan’s entropy is reducing. However, if you factor in the steam, your overall entropy has grown. The same can be said of black holes and Hawking radiation.”
He came to a conclusion by saying, “Because of their paradoxical nature, I’m captivated with these artefacts. They’re enigmatic and perplexing, but at the same time, we recognize them as the most basic items on the planet. They’re the ideal playgrounds for our understanding of reality because of this, as well as the fact that they’re where gravity meets quantum mechanics.”
Written By: Swati Sahoo