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August 2, 2021
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According to Space.com, black holes are extremely powerful producers of gravity, pulling on particles so intensely that even light can’t escape. This point where even light can’t escape is known as the event horizon, and when objects get close to the event horizon, they are accelerated to incredible speeds.
Some physicists are suggesting harnessing the gravitational pull of black holes to create vicious particle accelerators. A new study done by O.B. Zaslavskii that is set to be published in the journal Physics Review D attempts to show how this is possible.
When a single particle gets pulled in by the black hole, it will get pulled down to the event horizon and never be seen again, but when there are multiple particles, things start to get interesting. When two particles approach the event horizon, their speeds drastically increase, and if they have the perfect combination of speed and direction, they can bounce off each other, sending one particle towards the event horizon and the other particle to safety. Due to the nature of the complex mathematics involved in this action, this theoretical situation has only been worked in the case of what is known as “extremal” black holes. These are theoretical black holes that are the smallest possible mass and rotate at a given speed.
In reality, scientists think that almost all black holes would be much more massive than they need to be for this process to work. This makes most real black holes “non-extremal,” which means that until now, physicists weren’t sure if they could act as particle accelerators. The new study found that more realistic black holes, including massive, rotating black holes and electrically charged black holes, can still accelerate particles usefully. However, to get the high-speed boost needed, the particles need to already be moving at high speeds, which negates the point. The solution to all of the possible problems with this theory is to have multiple, high energy collisions occurring around a rotating black hole without getting too close to the event horizon. This new insight can help scientists in identifying black holes from the streams of particles blasting away from them.
ARTICLE: JOSEPH MODICA
SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH