Extreme Black Holes Could Be Out There

Apr 12, 2018

Recent research sheds a new light on our understanding of black holes, specifically extreme black holes. 

Extreme black holes have the fastest possible axis spin allowed by Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Scientists have long thought them to be possible, but have been skeptical because extreme black holes are considered to be unstable, and were thought to be unobservable. 

Dr. Gaurav Khanna, Physics Professor at UMass Dartmouth
Credit UMass Dartmouth

Dr. Gaurav Khanna, Physics Professor at UMass Dartmouth, is one of two authors of a recently published study that upends that thinking. 

"So what we've shown is that these such black holes are potentially stable, which means that they could be out there, and may be possible to find them," said Khanna. 

Through computer modeling and research, they were able to accomplish this. 

"And there we found that even if we try to hit this black hole with different kinds of objects, the black hole itself stays pretty stable, even if the objects themselves burn up," he said. 

Khanna said these extreme black holes generate gravitational wave signals, which are ripples in the space time fabric. Telescopes can't detect these signals, but the California-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, can find them. Last year, they made the first detection of ripples in space time fabric when two neuron stars collided. 

However, Khanna said LIGO isn't particularly focused on extreme black holes right now. 

Also, Khanna adds that Christopher Nolan's Interstellar gives a close visual representation of these types of black holes that spin at a high rate.