Black holes are notable for many things, especially their simplicity. They are just… holes. It is “black.” This simplicity allows us to draw surprising similarities between black holes and other physical branches. For example, a group of researchers showed that a particular type of particle can exist around a pair of black holes in a similar way that an electron can exist around a pair. hydrogen atoms – the first example of a “molecular gravity”. This strange object may give us hints about his identity dark matter and the ultimate nature of no time.
To understand how the new study is, published in September on a pre-printed database arXiv, to explain the existence of a gravitational molecule, we first need to explore one of the most fundamental –- and, sadly, almost never-mentioned aspects of modern physics: school.
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School is a math tool that tells you what you can expect to find as you travel from place to place in the universe. For example, if you’ve ever seen a weather report on TV about temperatures in your local area, you’re looking at a viewer-friendly avatar of an area: When you travel around town or your state, you will know what kind of temperature you can find, and where (and if you need to bring a jacket or not).
This type of field is called a “scalar” field, because “scalar” is the preferred mathematical expression “just a single number”. There are other types of fields in soil-physics, like a “vector” field and a “tensor” field, that provide more than one number for every location in space-time. (For example, if you see a map of wind speed and direction on the screen, you’re looking at the vector field.) But for the purposes of this paper, we only need to know about the scalar type.
Atomic power pair
In the heyday of the mid-20th century, physicists took the concept of the field – which existed for centuries at the time, and is completely old for mathematicians – and began use it.
They realize that fields are not just handy mathematical gimmicks – they actually describe something super-fundamental about the inner workings of reality. Essentially, they discovered that everything in the universe is actually a field.
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Get humble electrons. From quantum mechanics, we know that it is quite difficult to determine the exact position of an electron at any given moment. When quantum mechanics first appeared, this was a rather confusing mess to understand and debug, until the field emerged.
In modern physics, we represent the electron as a field – a mathematical object that tells us where we can detect the electron the next time we look. This field reacts to the world around it – for example, due to the electrical influence of a nearby atomic nucleus – and adjusts itself to change where we should see the electron.
The end result is that electrons can only appear in certain regions around the atomic nucleus, creating an entire field of chemistry (I’m simplifying a bit, but you get what I mean).
Best friend in black hole
And now the black hole part. In atomic physics, you can absolutely describe one elementary particles (like an electron) in terms of three numbers: its mass, its spin, and its charge. And in gravity physics, you can completely describe a black hole in three numbers: its mass, its spin, and its electron charge.
A surprising situation? The jury ignored that, but we can now exploit that similarity to better understand black holes.
In the linguistic language of particle physics that we have just discovered, you can describe one atom as a small nucleus surrounded by an electronic field. That electronic field responds to the presence of the nucleus, and allows the electron to appear only in certain regions. The same is true for electrons surrounding two nuclei, for example in a diatomic molecule like hydrogen (H2.)
You can describe the environment of a similar black hole. Imagine the tiny singularity in a black heart a little bit like the nucleus of an atom, while the surrounding environment – a common scalar field – is similar to the medium that describes a subatomic particles. That scalar field reacts to the presence of a black hole and allows its corresponding particle to appear only in certain regions. And just like in diatomic molecules, you can also describe the scalar field around two black holes, just like in the binary black hole system.
The authors of the study found that scalar fields can actually exist around binary black holes. Furthermore, they can form themselves in certain patterns in the same way that electron fields arrange themselves in molecules. So the scalar field behavior in that scenario mimics the way electrons behave in diatom molecules, hence the nickname “gravitational molecule”.
Why care about scalar schools? First, we don’t understand the nature of dark matter or dark energy, and maybe both dark energy and dark matter can be made up of one or more scalar fields), just like electrons are made up of electronic magnetic fields.
If dark matter is actually composed of some kind of scalar field, this result means that dark matter would exist in a very strange state around binary black holes – dark particles. Hidden would have to exist in very specific orbits, like electrons that are in atoms. But a binary black hole doesn’t last forever; they emit gravitational radiation and eventually collide and coalesce into a single black hole. These dark matter scalar fields will influence any gravitational waves emitted in such collisions, because they will filter, deflect, and reshape any waves that pass through regions of dark matter density increases. This means that we can detect this dark matter with sufficient sensitivity in existing gravitational wave detectors.
In summary: We could soon confirm the existence of gravitational molecules, and thereby open a door into the hidden darkness of our universe.
Originally published on Live Science.