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Space Science

Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise 293

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fifth-dimensional-hyper-worm dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "There is growing evidence that the center of the Milky Way contains a mysterious object some 4 million times more massive than the Sun. Many astronomers believe that this object, called Sagittarius A*, is a supermassive black hole that was crucial in the galaxy's birth and formation. The thinking is that about 100 million years after the Big Bang, this supermassive object attracted the gas and dust that eventually became the Milky Way. But there is a problem with this theory--100 million years is not long enough for a black hole to grow so big. The alternative explanation is that Sagittarius A* is a wormhole that connects the Milky Way to another region of the universe or even a another multiverse. Cosmologists have long known that wormholes could have formed in the instants after the Big Bang and that these objects would have been preserved during inflation to appear today as supermassive objects hidden behind an event horizon, like black holes. It's easy to imagine that it would be impossible to tell these objects apart. But astronomers have now worked out that wormholes are smaller than black holes and so bend light from an object orbiting close to them, such as a plasma cloud, in a unique way that reveals their presence. They've even simulated what such a wormhole will look like. No telescope is yet capable of resolving images like these but that is set to change too. An infrared instrument called GRAVITY is currently being prepared for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer in Chile and should be in a position to spot the signature of a wormhole, if it is there, in the next few years."
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Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise

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  • Lies. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Adam Colley (3026155) <mogNO@SPAMkupo.be> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:46PM (#47000291)

    Lies.

    Everyone knows you can only keep a wormhole open for 38 minutes.

    • by dfn5 (524972)

      Lies.

      Everyone knows you can only keep a wormhole open for 38 minutes.

      Except when it is connected to a black hole.

    • Can't you just reconfigure the main antenna to emit a reverse tachyon beam ?
  • Worms crawling in and out?

  • has a lot of mass... so... this might a difference without distinction.

    • Not "mass", but a lot of "curvature of spacetime", the causes of which are (under current theory) completely different for black holes and wormholes.
  • Why it matters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:57PM (#47000435) Homepage
    Given the intense environment around Sag A*, even if it turns out to be a wormhole it will be utterly non-traversable. However, there are hypotheses that wormholes to be stabilized require using negative matter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_mass [wikipedia.org]. At least, that's the most plausible mechanism suggested- so this would be inadvertent evidence that negative matter exists, which would be a really big deal. There's also speculation that a cosmic string could do something similar- note that a cosmic string is topological defect in space time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_string [wikipedia.org]- these are not the strings from string theory although many forms of string theory would predict that such objects would exist. And of course, if wormholes exist in nature there's some small chance we can either make our own o find much smaller ones and put them to use. Unfortunately, there's a lot of dust and other debris between where we are and Sag A*, so even GRAVITY may have trouble getting enough resolution to figure this out.
    • Re:Why it matters (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ByteSlicer (735276) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:19PM (#47000723)

      However, there are hypotheses that wormholes to be stabilized require using negative matter

      If Sag A* is a wormhole, and required stabilizing, then it would have destabilized long long time ago, since it has been constantly gobbling up regular matter (albeit infrequently lately).

      I doubt anything could pass through a wormhole, since that would probably break causality or the laws of thermodynamics. Also, we should have detected stuff coming out of the other side (maybe not of this one, but there should be "exits" all over the universe).

      If wormholes exist, my guess is they will be more like a pair of entangled black holes. They would look like normal black holes, until you did a careful statistical analysis of Hawking radiation of both.

      • there should be "exits" all over the universe

        Why should there be exits? What if they go to another universe? Or alternately, who says there aren't exits all over the universe?

        we should have detected stuff coming out of the other side

        Why? Is there one nearby that we can observe with our extremely primitive and limited technology? Would we know it if we saw it?

        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)

          Why? Is there one nearby that we can observe with our extremely primitive and limited technology? Would we know it if we saw it?

          Yes, we would know if we saw it. Essentially it would look very close to a white hole http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_hole [wikipedia.org]. And we should expect that if wormhole entrances are common then by the Copernican principle we should see some exits near us. This is one of the major reasons to doubt this sort of thing. As to your question about other universes- GR is not really happy with wormholes going from universes to universes- no one has been able to get the math to work out in a reasonable fashion- there's

        • Why should there be exits? What if they go to another universe?

          I was talking about the classic kind of wormhole. Either it has a direction, and then there should be a 50/50 chance that any end is an exit, or it has no direction and both ends can act like an exit.

          If they go to another universe, then I would expect other universe's wormholes to connect to ours too, in a similar ratio (otherwise our universe would be very special, and lose matter/energy).

          Is there one nearby that we can observe with our extremely primitive and limited technology? Would we know it if we saw it?

          Matter almost falling into a black hole, but escaping, is the source of some of the most energetic bursts of cosmic ray

        • Re:Why it matters (Score:5, Interesting)

          by wierd_w (1375923) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @03:52PM (#47002459)

          One possible solution is that our wormholes (if they exist) are actually "pre big bang events" for a whole new universe inside the wormhole, and that they actually contain an infinite volume. "White hole" stage happens at the big bang inside, and any subsequent mass energy that falls in from our side just becomes dark energy on their side, distributed everywhere.

          It would be interesting to try to plot out how causality works over the bridge.

          the way I envision it though (which is almost certainly wrong), is that time is more confined (slower) near the bridge, but becomes less confined (faster) as the space on the other side expands in volume. (Speed is measured as 'planc seconds against unit of spacetime traversed by photon in vacuum' EG, near the bridge, photons appear to travel more slowly, where away from the bridge, they appear to travel more quickly. The actual energy of the photon has not changed, but the ratio between space and time has changed. There is more 'time' near the bridge than there is space, and vise versa further away.)
          Any particular "moment" can be seen as a topological point on the 'surface' of the wormhole.

          (See for instance this image of the standard inflation model of our universe.)

          http://scitechdaily.com/images... [scitechdaily.com]

          If you cross your eyes when you look at it, the model resembles a white hole, where the "hole" is the big bang, the energy was delivered "all at once", and what we percieve as time is just a manifestation of the energy delivered. (it would explain why time runs only in one direciton, and a number of other interesting things. it could theoretically explain dark energy, etc.)

          Another interesting tidbit: Supermassive objects like sagitarius A have a hard time "feeding". This may account for the inflationary curvature of our own universe if you, again, cross your eyes when you look at it.

          EG, early in the universe, mass energy from the higher up one was spilling into ours. (their "hole" was feeding), but as it grew in intensity, the curvature on their end made such feeding more difficult, and the rate of influx slowed sharply-- ending the rapid expansion period.

          If that's the case, then some corollary math should add up against observational metrics against black hole feeding on our side, and may give some interesting insights.

          http://phys.org/news140370694.... [phys.org]

          Can any of the more physics-head types see if there is a correlation between the estimated energy of the universe at the end of the hyper-expansionary epoch, and the event horizon size of these super massive black holes that can no longer feed?

    • Re:Why it matters (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pausanias (681077) <(pausaniasx) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:56PM (#47001051)

      In general relativity, wormholes *do* require negative mass (or energy density), for sure. Outside the context of the Casimir effect [wikipedia.org], negative mass in wormholes and warp drives can yield causality violations [wikipedia.org]. Causality is the last thing you'll pry from a physicist's cold, dead hands. Therefore, while it may be fun to speculate about such things, they lie squarely within the realm of science fiction for now.

      To post on a news site that the galactic black hole "may be a wormhole" is like posting a headline saying that extraterrestrial aliens "may currently be among us." Both ideas are exciting. Both ideas are remotely within the realm of possibility. And both are so unlikely that they would readily be dismissed by all except those who are credulous or who like to drum up sensationalism for its own sake.

      It's sensationalism for nerds.

      • by jfengel (409917)

        Thanks for confirming that. I had a feeling this was gibberish and had to scroll down a long, long way to find a post that wasn't either a joke or sci-fi blithering.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Why do you assume the environment is extreme? From TFA Sagitarius A* is estimated to have an effective mass of 4 million times larger than the sun, in a volume not much larger than the solar system. Which is a bit vague, but if we call it the radius of Neptune's orbit that makes for 4e9 solar masses within 34e9 solar volumes. Since stars are estimated at ~1.4g.cm^3 that whole space could be filled with pseudo-matter only 16% as dense as water. We assume it's actually much denser, with the associated far

      • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
        The main way we've detect Sag A* is its massive radiation profile. That's a completely distinct issue from the issue of mass. But even the mass thing is a problem saying maybe it is filled with some sort of pseudo-matter is even more speculative than speculating it might be wormhole. And even if that is the case, the gamma and x-rays would still fry anything that got near.
        • Re:Why it matters (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Immerman (2627577) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @04:05PM (#47002625)

          Well, radiation is easy to deal with - nothing approaching at high speed behind a few miles of lead shielding won't solve. Gravitational gradients though... those could present a real problem.

          I agree my pseudo-mass is wildly speculative, but a wormhole mouth that size would have a very similar effect - once you get past the mouth the gravitational gradient (potentially) disappears. And taking Neptune's orbital parameters as a reference (gravitational acceleration by the sun = 0.0000065 m/s^2), then if the central effective mass were 4,000,000x greater that would still be only 26.2 m/s^2, or about 2.6Gs, and the tidal forces even over a kilometer would be about 4 parts in ten billion. Even if the mouth were only the size of the sun so that we're talking an acceleration of 27million Gs, the tidal differences over a distance of 10 meters (plenty large for a small craft) would be only about 4Gs - well within the realm of mechanical engineering. And assuming passengers were curled up within little 1 meter balls they would be subjected to only one-tenth that - less than they'd experience in psuedo-tidal forces if splayed out on a children's merry-go-round.

          0.0000065 m/s^2 * 4,000,000 * rNep^2 / rSun^2 = 274MGs
          274MGs * (1 - rSun^2 / [rSun+10m])^2 = 3.9G
          274MGs * (1 - rSun^2 / [rSun+1m])^2 = 0.39G

          Of course that does assume that the source of the radiation is something other than atoms being ripped apart by tidal forces.

    • by fermion (181285)
      It is interesting that so many call this 'pseudo science.' Black holes fell out equations, and we really don't know if black holes exist or are at the center of galaxies. All we know is that if we assume black holes exists and are described as the math predicts, many things do fall into place consistent with these predictions.

      But black holes have issues and have caused many more questions than answered. Some observations are consistent with the mathematics, but the math leads to some confusing conclusion

  • The Point is Proof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gpronger (1142181) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:57PM (#47000441) Journal
    The point here is that the concept of a worm-hole has been theoretical and the domain of Sci-Fi. It is a huge event if we are able to verify. My guess is that the verification will have ramifications in the theoretical physics, simply because so much has been strictly theory.
    • I think this is more pie in the sky theory than anything. Based on what we do know already, worm holes likely do exist but they're sub-atomic and exists very very briefly. A wormhole the size of Sagittarius A* would require an entirely new form of physics to exist. Everything we think is true would have to be wrong. Which isn't impossible, just pretty unlikely. Blackholes that size do, however, fit within our models.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Actually, if you read TFA the theory is that this started out as one of those quantum wormholes that was caught in the inflationary period, which I suppose could cause it to scale radically though they don't mention any details as to how that would stabilize things. As a "shot in the dark" speculation - if inflationary energy had gotten inside the wormhole then the "tunnel" would likely inflate radically as well, with the resulting flood of space and energy within it preventing its collapse, and stretching

  • by iggymanz (596061) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:01PM (#47000491)

    of course, we don't even know that black holes exist, quantum gravity might preclude it, or dense enough matter instead forms quark stars, q stars, preon star, etc. instead of black hole. Care should be taken to see if one of these alternatives to black holes can be detected by GRAVITY findings

    we don't know wormholes exist, certain solutions to General Relativity have them but again we don't know if physically possible to form.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Care should be taken to see if one of these alternatives to black holes can be detected by GRAVITY findings

      Sigh. Naming this thing GRAVITY is going to cause confusion for people trying to search for research for decades if not centuries to come.

    • Re:oh boy (Score:5, Informative)

      by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @02:09PM (#47001225) Journal

      of course, we don't even know that black holes exist,

      Yes, actually we do. We know that supermassive objects exist... we know that they can bend light, and we know that space can be bent to such a degree by such objects that any light which travels too close to it travels a curved path that never leaves a bounded region of space near the object that we refer to as an event horizon, creating a region in space that is basically just "black" as it appears from outside of that region, It obviously obscures anything behind it, while its gravity still bends light in visible ways beyond its event horizon, allowing us to identify it's mass, position, and event horizon size.

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:02PM (#47000501)

    I am surprised they don't mention the Event Horizon Telescope [eventhoriz...escope.org], which could resolve this.

  • by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:02PM (#47000505) Homepage

    There are too many pseudo-science stories on Slashdot these days. Are you listening, editors? It's like reading Scientific American (which was almost as bad as Omni last time I read it).

    Here we have a whole huge paragraph full of fantasized bullshit whose only supporting documents are a speculative paper submitted to arXiv, and a brief regurgitation thereof on some arXiv blog.

    Please stop wasting my time. I want to read NEWS for Nerds (where "news" means "as factually verifiable as possible") and stuff that MATTERS (and pseudo science speculation does not matter to me).

    Thank you.

    • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:10PM (#47000597) Journal

      But it's testable fantasized bullshit-- which means that it's scientifically interesting.

    • Here we have a whole huge paragraph full of fantasized bullshit whose only supporting documents are a speculative paper submitted to arXiv, and a brief regurgitation thereof on some arXiv blog.

      You've just detailed why Slashdot submissions - unlike links posted as part of the discussions - don't display the name of the site any included link directs to. If it did, there would likely be 99% fewer clickthroughs.

    • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:26PM (#47000789)

      There are too many pseudo-science stories on Slashdot these days

      While I largely agree with the sentiment, this story is not one of them.

      There are peculiar solutions to the field equations of GR, including wormholes and black holes. Whether any of these solutions can be physically realized has been one of the most interesting questions in both observational and theoretical cosmology for decades. The possibility of detecting the difference between a supermassive black hole and a wormhole at the centre of the galaxy is definitely nerd-worthy, although I agree the hype is, uh, over-hyped.

      Furthermore, these stories give lay-people a bit of insight into how science--which is the discipline of publicly testing ideas by systematic observation, controlled experiment and Bayesian inference--actually works.

      Remember when the existence of black holes was still hotly debated, back in the '70's? Observations on an very small object with a mass of more than 1.4 solar masses (the theoretical upper limit for neutron stars) resulted in a general acceptance that it was a black hole, which likely therefore exist. But that conclusion was contingent on a lack of other plausible alternatives, and so is subject to modification as other alternatives become more plausible...

      This is part of that ongoing story.

      • by starless (60879)

        Remember when the existence of black holes was still hotly debated, back in the '70's? Observations on an very small object with a mass of more than 1.4 solar masses (the theoretical upper limit for neutron stars) resulted in a general acceptance that it was a black hole,

        1.4 Msun is the maximum mass of a white dwarf not a neutron star.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]
        It's therefore basically the _minimum_ mass of a neutron star.

        To show that something is a black hole you have to show that it's more than
        the theoretical maximum mass of a neutron star which is higher. That's not very well determined but is something like 3 Msun.
        http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/d... [nasa.gov]

    • Agreed. It's a cool, idea, but that's all. We'd have to upend the whole of astrophysics for it to be true.

  • let me preface that i have loved astronomy and space my entire life, so no hate here...

    my first wall poster when i was 8 was a map of the local group that i got out of a natgeo...this was 40 years ago and at the time i remember my mind utterly being blown by that map and the realization of how tiny i was.

    my problem with modern cosmology is, however, the new trend that propose theories with no testable means of proving them. i understand that with cutting edge theory sometimes there may be a lag between the

    • ...that i am excited that this theory seems to fall into the "testable" catagory and that makes it quite exciting to me.

      sorry i hit Submit before adding that thought...

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:08PM (#47000573)

    This is really a problem of the "dark ages" - roughly, red shifts between 1400 and 14 (i.e., the period between just after the cosmic microwave background up to the earliest quasars and galaxies). At one end, there are no black holes, at the other, there are supermassive ones, what happens in between, we don't really know. My own personal guess is that this is a consequence of dark matter [pku.edu.cn], and thus wouldn't require worm-holes but, if we can test the wormhole hypothesis, we should. We know so little about the dark ages that IMHO no possibility should be ignored.

  • Let's go! (Score:5, Funny)

    by mjperson (160131) <mjperson@mit.edu> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:10PM (#47000595)

    Finally a stable wormhole for our FTL travel needs. Now, since Sagitarius A is 26,000 lightyears away, all we need to do is build some sort of wormhole network to get us there, and then FTL travel will be ours!

  • One of the big ones, like the one that was used to travel to the Collectors' homeworld.

  • I recommend... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:16PM (#47000681) Homepage Journal

    I recommend that we gather up all the world's warrior mentality politicians who are always dragging people into wars and bullshit, put them in uniforms, and send them on a mission through the event horizon to determine if there's another world on the other side of the wormhole, or if they just get squished like bugs.

    Somebody has to do it: solve the Schroedinger question. Is it a wormhole or a black hole? Or is it a quantum object that changes between the two randomly as you observe it?

    The politicians have a need to know. Send them soon. :P

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      But what if they don't get squished? Think about the intelligient alien species that might be on the other side! Do you really want to curse another intelligent species with such a disease?
  • Nonsense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhuCknuT (1703) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @01:48PM (#47000989) Homepage

    "The thinking is that about 100 million years after the Big Bang, this supermassive object attracted the gas and dust that eventually became the Milky Way. But there is a problem with this theory--100 million years is not long enough for a black hole to grow so big. The alternative explanation is that Sagittarius A* is a wormhole..."

    No, the widely accepted alternative (aka, the actual mainstream consensus) is that the supermassive black hole and the galaxy grew together, not that the black hole came first and was supermassive before the galaxy existed. This wormhole theory is an answer to a question no one is asking.

  • Just send Beowulf Schaeffer with the Long Shot already.

  • on Arxiv is peer reviewed or even 'good' science. This would seem to fall under that category.

  • It's a super stargate

  • ... that sinking feeling that everything we know is swirling around the drain.

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