It has not been investigated whether black holes display some of quantum physics’ weird and beautiful behaviors. Superposition is one such behavior where particles on a quantum scale can exist in multiple states at the same time.
By running several calculations, physicists at the University of Queensland have revealed the bizarre quantum properties of black holes – including their mind-bending ability to have different masses simultaneously.
Ph.D. candidate Joshua Foo said, “Black holes are created when gravity squeezes a vast amount of matter incredibly densely into a tiny space, creating so much gravitational pull that even light cannot escape. It’s a phenomenon that can be triggered by a dying star.”
“For black holes, we wanted to see whether they could have wildly different masses at the same time, and it turns out they do.”
To demonstrate this, the team created a mathematical framework that enables us to “position” a particle outside a hypothetical mass-superposed black hole. Mass was looked at specifically, as it is a defining feature of a black hole, and it is plausible that quantum black holes naturally have mass superposition.
Research co-supervisor Dr. Magdalena Zych said, “the research reinforces conjectures raised by pioneers of quantum physics.”
“Our work shows that the very early theories of Jacob Bekenstein – an American and Israeli theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the foundation of black hole thermodynamics – were on the money,” she said.
“He postulated that black holes can only have masses that are of certain values, that is, they must fall within certain bands or ratios — this is how energy levels of an atom work, for example.”
“Our modeling showed that these superposed masses were, in fact, in certain determined bands or ratios – as predicted by Bekenstein.”
“We didn’t assume any such pattern going in, so the fact we found this evidence was quite surprising.”
“The universe reveals to us that it’s always more strange, mysterious, and fascinating than most of us could have imagined.”
- Joshua Foo et al. Quantum Signatures of Black Hole Mass Superpositions. Phys. Rev. Lett. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.129.181301