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Magnetic 'balding' of black holes saves general relativity prediction

Dragon
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Post by Dragon Wed Aug 04, 2021 4:22 am

Black holes aren't what they eat. Einstein's general relativity predicts that no matter what a black hole consumes, its external properties depend only on its mass, rotation and electric charge.

All other details about its diet disappear.

Astrophysicists whimsically call this the no-hair conjecture. (Black holes, they say, "have no hair.")

There is a potentially hairy threat to the conjecture, though. Black holes can be born with a strong magnetic field or obtain one by munching on magnetized material. Such a field must quickly disappear for the no-hair conjecture to hold.

But real black holes don't exist in isolation.

They can be surrounded by plasma—gas so energized that electrons have detached from their atoms—that can sustain the magnetic field, potentially disproving the conjecture.


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Magnetic 'balding' of black holes saves general relativity prediction 334pu7m
Dragon
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Post by Dragon Wed Aug 04, 2021 4:23 am

Magnetic 'balding' of black holes saves general relativity prediction Magnetic-balding-of-bl
Credit: A. Bransgrove et al./Physical Review Letters 2021

A simulation of the magnetic field lines (green) surrounding a black hole (left). As the field lines break and reconnect, pockets of plasma form (center of green circles).

These plasma pockets launch inward toward the black hole or outward into space, draining energy from the magnetic field.


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Magnetic 'balding' of black holes saves general relativity prediction 334pu7m
Dragon
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Post by Dragon Wed Aug 04, 2021 4:25 am



A new model is bringing scientists a step closer to understanding the kinds of light signals produced when two supermassive black holes, which are millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun, spiral toward a collision.

For the first time, a new computer simulation that fully incorporates the physical effects of Einstein's general theory of relativity shows that gas in such systems will glow predominantly in ultraviolet and X-ray light.

Just about every galaxy the size of our own Milky Way or larger contains a monster black hole at its center.

Observations show galaxy mergers occur frequently in the universe, but so far no one has seen a merger of these giant black holes.

Scientists have detected merging stellar-mass black holes -- which range from around three to several dozen solar masses -- using the National Science Foundation's Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Gravitational waves are space-time ripples traveling at the speed of light. They are created when massive orbiting objects like black holes and neutron stars spiral together and merge.

Supermassive mergers will be much more difficult to find than their stellar-mass cousins.

One reason ground-based observatories can't detect gravitational waves from these events is because Earth itself is too noisy, shaking from seismic vibrations and gravitational changes from atmospheric disturbances.

The detectors must be in space, like the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) led by ESA (the European Space Agency) and planned for launch in the 2030s.


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Magnetic 'balding' of black holes saves general relativity prediction 334pu7m
Dragon
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Post by Dragon Wed Aug 04, 2021 4:27 am



The primary goal of ESA's LISA Pathfinder mission is to test current technology by flying around an identical pair of 1.8-inch (46 millimeter) cubes made of a gold-platinum alloy, a material chosen for its high density and insensitivity to magnetic fields.

Scientists say the results are nothing short of astonishing.

Non-gravitational forces on the cubes were reduced to levels far below the project's original requirements and approach the level of control needed for a full-scale observatory.


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Magnetic 'balding' of black holes saves general relativity prediction 334pu7m

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