Black holes and the singularity

  • B
  • Thread starter wolram
  • Start date
  • #1
wolram
Gold Member
4,267
557
AFAIK, scientists do not believe in the singularity, one way out of the singularity is quantum gravity, but as we have no testable theory of quantum gravity what do scientists think a black hole is?
 
  • Like
Likes K. Doc Holiday

Answers and Replies

  • #2
martinbn
Science Advisor
1,886
580
Is there a reason to say black holes (plural) and use singular (ha ha, no pun here) the singularity? Why not the singularities?
 
  • Like
Likes K. Doc Holiday
  • #3
Jonathan Scott
Gold Member
2,294
991
I don't think there's a "mainstream" answer to this; current physics simply breaks down at a singularity. Mainstream science can say what a black hole does, but not what it is, and given that mainstream science also expects a singularity to be behind an event horizon, there is no way to distinguish between alternative ideas.

I do not consider it proven yet that black holes actually occur. There is certainly solid observational evidence that extremely massive but compact objects exist which must be black holes if General Relativity remains accurate even in such extreme cases. The first LIGO detection also confirmed that the physical sizes of such objects must be close to the predictions for black holes of a few stellar masses. However, some of those objects behave in ways which are difficult to reconcile with the GR predictions of black holes, for example apparently having intense magnetic fields or having X-ray luminosity which appears to far exceed the theoretical maximum from current black hole models.

If these objects aren't in fact black holes, then one way to tell would be that a collision between them would give off a significant amount of electromagnetic radiation as well as gravitational radiation, so when the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope team claimed an apparent observation of a gamma-ray burst (close to the limit of detectability) associated with the first LIGO detection I found that very interesting, although that result was controversial and marginal. I hope that LIGO will get some more strong results soon to allow further checking for possible correlated GRBs.
 
  • Like
Likes K. Doc Holiday, stoomart, rootone and 1 other person
  • #4
wolram
Gold Member
4,267
557
It would certainly be a step forwards if the [black hole singularity] is found to be non existent, but we are left with some thing with masses of a few, to millions solar masses that distorts space time, It has been said that the black hole leads to a worm hole to another universe, would that be a universe for each BH or the same for all BHs
I think this is string theory, but as string theory seems to have been put on the back burner i can not believe it has much credence.
 
  • Like
Likes K. Doc Holiday
  • #5
Jonathan Scott
Gold Member
2,294
991
If you're interested in wormholes, see the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wormhole

Although the concept of wormholes has been investigated mathematically in various ways, I think that all potentially interesting ideas (such as being able to fall into a black hole and survive a journey to somewhere else) rely on non-standard theories or a large pinch of unobtainium.
 
  • Like
Likes 1oldman2, K. Doc Holiday, Rubidium_71 and 2 others
  • #6
Ssnow
Gold Member
523
154
Hi, I can say that a '' black hole is a rift in the continuum space-time'' as we heard in science fiction movies ... :smile:
I prefer the entity created when a lot of mass implodes on itself ...
 
  • #7
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
30,733
9,727
what do scientists think a black hole is?
Currently, the best answer is a region of spacetime from which light, locally, cannot escape. The more technical term would be a "trapped region". Such a region is bounded by a trapped surface, which is also called an apparent horizon. The open question is whether these apparent horizons are associated with actual event horizons (regions from which light can never escape, not just regions from which it can't escape at present). The technical definition of a black hole requires there to be an actual event horizon; but that just means that, if we end up discovering that there are no actual event horizons, only apparent ones, we'll probably redefine the term "black hole" to cover that case.

The question of whether there is an actual singularity inside the horizon is not the same as the question of whether the horizon is an actual event horizon or only an apparent horizon. The singularity theorems in GR are actually based on the condition that there is an apparent horizon, not an event horizon. So in order for there not to be singularities, some other condition of those theorems has to be violated. The most likely candidate is the energy conditions: quantum fields are known to violate them under certain conditions (for example, this is what makes Hawking radiation possible, since the theorem that the area of a black hole must increase also assumes that the energy conditions are valid).
 
  • Like
Likes K. Doc Holiday and rootone
  • #8
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
30,733
9,727
It has been said that the black hole leads to a worm hole to another universe, would that be a universe for each BH or the same for all BHs
In the highly speculative models where a black hole gives birth to a "baby universe" instead of having a singularity at the center, there would be a new baby universe for each BH, and all of them would be disconnected from each other.

There are no models in which a black hole contains a traversable wormhole. The wormhole in the maximally extended Schwarzschild solution pinches off too fast for anything to get through it (in more technical language, the only paths through the wormhole are spacelike, there are no timelike or null paths through it). And anyway, that portion of the maximally extended Schwarzschild solution doesn't appear in realistic models of how a black hole would form by gravitational collapse.

To get a traversable wormhole, you have to thread the wormhole with exotic matter, i.e., the "unobtainium" that Jonathan Scott mentioned; such models have been studied as a matter of theoretical interest, but AFAIK nobody is claiming they can actually exist.
 
  • Like
Likes K. Doc Holiday and wolram
  • #9
mathman
Science Advisor
7,858
446
There is plenty of evidence that black holes exist. However what happens inside is essentially unknown. Current physics (quantum theory +general relativity) breaks down.
 
  • Like
Likes K. Doc Holiday
  • #10
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
30,733
9,727
There is plenty of evidence that black holes exist.
The definition of "black hole" is precisely the point at issue, so you can't just help yourself to this statement as it stands. You have to actually describe what there is plenty of evidence for the existence of, without using the term "black hole". I tried to do that in post #8; a quick summary would be that there is plenty of evidence for apparent horizons into which matter can or has collapsed.
 
  • Like
Likes K. Doc Holiday
  • #11
3,379
944
According to the best theories we have it's possible to describe the state of a neutron star.
In that case there no longer are atoms, only a sea of a mainly neutrons with some free electrons and light nuclii mixed in.
We have no idea what happens when even neutron degeneracy cannot hold up against further infalling matter.
 
  • #12
mathman
Science Advisor
7,858
446
The definition of "black hole" is precisely the point at issue, so you can't just help yourself to this statement as it stands. You have to actually describe what there is plenty of evidence for the existence of, without using the term "black hole". I tried to do that in post #8; a quick summary would be that there is plenty of evidence for apparent horizons into which matter can or has collapsed.
At the center of all (or almost) all galaxies there is an invisible object, the size of which is in the millions or billions of solar masses. Black holes are the only description that fits according to current theory.
 
  • #13
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
30,733
9,727
Black holes are the only description that fits according to current theory.
Once again, the point at issue is the definition of "black hole". If you are defining "black hole" to mean "event horizon and the region inside it", then your claim is not justified; an apparent horizon is a description that also fits according to current theory. The only way to distinguish an apparent horizon from an actual event horizon, according to current theory, is to know the entire future of the spacetime, and we don't know that.

If you just define "black hole" to mean "a region inside either an apparent horizon or an event horizon", then your statement is true. But if that were your definition, you wouldn't be (apparently) disputing my previous post.
 
  • #14
Chronos
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,408
740
The simple and obvious definition of a black hole is a bounded region of space wherein photons cannot escape. Any further details are irrelevant.
 
  • Like
Likes Ssnow
  • #15
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
30,733
9,727
The simple and obvious definition of a black hole is a bounded region of space wherein photons cannot escape.
Cannot escape just right now, or cannot escape forever? That's the difference between an apparent horizon and an event horizon.

Any further details are irrelevant.
That would come as a great surprise to all the participants in what Susskind calls the Black Hole War, in which the question of whether there are any actual event horizons, or only apparent ones, is critical.
 
  • #16
Chronos
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,408
740
While typically robust, all event horizon are strictly virtual. On these grounds, it can be argued a black hole is only a black hole so long as the walls of its EH remain standing in the same sense that ice is only ice until it unfreezes. In theory, every black hole will face its own spring and ultimately unfreeze allowing photons to once again stream freely through.
 
Last edited:
  • #17
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
30,733
9,727
While typically robust, all event horizon are strictly virtual.
What does "virtual" mean here? If you mean we don't know if it's an event horizon or an apparent horizon, that's true, but that doesn't mean the event horizon is "virtual". The definition of an event horizon is perfectly precise: it's the boundary of the causal past of future null infinity. If there is no such boundary in a spacetime, i.e., if the entire spacetime is in the causal past of future null infinity--which will be the case if all horizons are only apparent horizons--then it's not correct that there is a "virtual event horizon". There is no event horizon, period.

it can be argued a black hole is only a black hole so long as the walls of its EH remain standing
This is one way of describing the model in which there is an event horizon, but the region inside it only exists until the black hole evaporates away completely (instead of existing infinitely into the future as in classical GR). I'm not up to date on the latest in the Black Hole War, but AFAIK Susskind a few years ago was claiming that his side had won, which if true would mean the model just described is not viable (Susskind's side was the side that said the presence of any event horizon at all, no matter how small the region inside it, would violate unitarity and thus be inconsistent with QM).
 
  • #18
Chronos
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,408
740
Perhaps the word 'virtual' is less than ideal. The sense I had in mind was that of a temporary construct. Since black holes are generally believed to evaporate, it is destined to return [albeit with little urgency] its disconnected volume of space back to the causal universe at large.
 
  • #19
Is there a reason to say black holes (plural) and use singular (ha ha, no pun here) the singularity? Why not the singularities?
Nice pun[emoji4]
 
  • #20
If you're interested in wormholes, see the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wormhole

Although the concept of wormholes has been investigated mathematically in various ways, I think that all potentially interesting ideas (such as being able to fall into a black hole and survive a journey to somewhere else) rely on non-standard theories or a large pinch of unobtainium.
Love the humor!
 
  • #21
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
30,733
9,727
Since black holes are generally believed to evaporate, it is destined to return [albeit with little urgency] its disconnected volume of space back to the causal universe at large.
But this isn't necessarily true. In Hawking's original model of an evaporating black hole, it isn't; there is a genuine event horizon and an interior region behind it that cannot send any light signals to infinity. That interior region has a future boundary because the hole ends up evaporating, but it's still there, and information still gets trapped inside it.

In other models, however, where there is only an apparent horizon, your description is correct: there is an apparent "disconnected volume", but it isn't really disconnected; all events in that region can eventually send light signals to infinity. There is no true event horizon and no singularity in these models.

The problem is that we don't know for sure which type of model will end up being confirmed when (or if) we are able to test this stuff against observations.
 
  • #23
We have no idea what happens when even neutron degeneracy cannot hold up against further infalling matter.
Could it be that nuclear particles show a similar property like crushed atoms? In the "crushed" state still unknown subquark particles may play a major role. The principle even could be recursive in a way that subquarks of increasing order enter the game in more and more exotic conditions.
 
  • #24
PeterDonis
Mentor
Insights Author
2019 Award
30,733
9,727
In the "crushed" state still unknown subquark particles may play a major role. The principle even could be recursive in a way that subquarks of increasing order enter the game in more and more exotic conditions.
Do you have a reference for this? If not, please bear in mind the PF rules on personal theories.
 

Related Threads on Black holes and the singularity

Replies
5
Views
981
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
3K
Replies
5
Views
753
Replies
17
Views
1K
Replies
13
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
780
Replies
12
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
1K
Top