back to article Event horizons around black holes do exist, say astroboffins

Physicists in the US have found evidence that event horizons around black holes do exist, reinforcing Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. Black holes are strange objects that can grow to monstrous sizes. The gravitational field around them is believed to be so strong that even light cannot escape. Event horizons outline a …

  1. Tromos
    Joke

    Promotion?

    General Relativity has performed so well that I recommend promotion to Field Marshal Relativity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Promotion?

      Ober Sturmtruppenführer Relativity ?

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Promotion?

      Big Kahuna Relativity for those from the 60's.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These theories are all over the place!

    Let me unify them a bit, let's see, okay, and a bit of the old, and there we are:

    E=MC^2+G

    There, I added the full theory of gravitation on the end there, and Bob's your uncle; grandiose unified theory! Let me know if you need any other unsolved physics problems solved with nonsensical additions, or if you see any weird events on the horizon?

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: These theories are all over the place!

      Ah, similar to the Dirk Gently approach to problem solving.

      It worked for him!

    2. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      Re: These theories are all over the place!

      try:

      E^2 = p^2 c^ + m^2 c^4

      and you might be on to something... (but unfortunately not a gravitational something)

  3. bazza Silver badge

    Clever Chap, Einstein

    It's remarkable how well both relativity and quantum mechanics describe the world around us. The early part of the 20th century was truly a great time for science.

    However, I take a lot of comfort from the knowledge that relativity and quantum mechanics still disagree. That's a good thing. It means that there's some other, even more monumental idea out there that fully explains both. I know there's a few ideas for that floating around, but whoever nails it will be owed something more grand than the Nobel physics prize...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

        Symon,

        It's remarkable how Newton's laws of motion describe the world around us. The 17th century was truly the age of enlightenment.

        Agreed. Newton's achievement was getting so close, and Einstein's was showing exactly (as in a quantifiable measure of closeness) how close Newton had come.

        Which of them was the cleverest? Well Newton went on to run the Royal Mint, so he quite literally showed how the universe worked (nearly), and then got a license to mint cash. That's a whole different type of cleverness...

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

          Maxwell was credited by Einstein. His equations proved c as a constant, he almost had special relativity. If Einstein had known non-Elucidean geometry, he have had general relativity 9 years quicker. His first major paper was actually quantum related, the Photo-electric effect.

          So yes a clever bloke.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

            "Maxwell was credited by Einstein. "
            Was he? Lorentz for SR, and Gauss, Riemann and Mach for GR, but not Maxwell or Poincaré IIRC. But I agree, a very clever bloke.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        @Symon

        "It's remarkable how Newton's laws of motion describe the world around us. The 17th century was truly the age of enlightenment."

        Not so much about that 17th century, because it was much later when we finally had the courage (and drive) to stand up against the oppression by the church. When that ended it also truly started the rise of the whole mechanical revolution.

        Many people fear the influence of Islam right now (in my opinion rightfully so), and many people also can't believe how that religion can so easily set out a death warrant (fatwa) solely because people expressed their opinion about something.

        Well... It's easy to forget but our holy Christian church has done exactly the same. You say Newton, many people within the Christian faith said heretic, and it were only a select few who could stand up to that and still carry on their work (as good as possible of course).

        Yet that oppression, that fanatic fear for science (or loss of power?) is what makes the 17th century hardly as great for science as these later times.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: @Symon

          "You say Newton, many people within the Christian faith said heretic, and it were only a select few who could stand up to that and still carry on their work (as good as possible of course).

          Yet that oppression, that fanatic fear for science (or loss of power?) is what makes the 17th century hardly as great for science as these later times."

          Oddly enough Newton wrote many, many more words about God than he did about physics. His religious writing was extremely heretical (he didn't believe in the Trinity for example). He fully expected to lose his post at Trinity when he refused to become an ordained priest, a requirement at that time. He didn't. How oppressive is that? Mostly his bizarre religious beliefs were ignored.

          1. handleoclast
            Coat

            Re: @Symon

            You say Newton didn't believe in the Trinity. That sort of explains why he (as you said) expected to lose his post at Trinity. Nobody could be so insane as to think they could continue to work at a college they believed did not exist.

            Well, some say that Donald Trump is that insane, but that's just negative press covfefe.

            1. Red Bren
              Facepalm

              Re: @Symon

              Covfefe (adj.)

              A shade of orange.

        2. Uffish

          @ShelLuser

          Perhaps you should spread your ogre catching net a little wider than Christianity and Islam. I quote from an excellent web page:

          In 1898 William James Laidlay wrote a book criticizing the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and he included -

          'It is the game of life we are playing; and if men, by their professions, lead other men into disaster, I maintain it is a serious thing. Some men, in fact, I think, most men, do it with no malice at all; in fact, far from it, it is more like stupidity; still, the result is the same'.

          In other words, never attribute to malice (or religion) that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

      3. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

        Ooh, you had the Henlightenment. All we 'ad was t' Renaissance.

    2. dan1980

      Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

      @Bazza

      "It's remarkable how well both relativity and quantum mechanics describe the world around us."

      As i understand it*, the modern theories of the fundamental forces (excl. gravity) are a synthesis of quantum mechanics and (special) relativity. In other words, the Standard Model arises when one takes quantum behaviour and constrains that with relativity.

      At least that's a lay-person's interpretation of an exceedingly complex subject.

      * - Imperfectly at the very best.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

        @dan1980,

        Yes that's my (imperfect) understanding too. Gravity makes a mess of the whole thing...

        I saw a really good explanation of how magnetism was down to the effects of relativity on the quantum mechanical behaviour of electrons (and other charged particles). Can't for the life of me remember who gave it, might have been vsauce or veritassium.

        1. Orv

          Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

          This reminds me that at one point planetary magnetic fields were thought to arise directly from gravitation and angular momentum. This was disproved relatively quickly (it couldn't explain Mars' lack of a field) but it did give James Blish some nifty ideas for a fictional FTL drive.

    3. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

      "I take a lot of comfort from the knowledge that relativity and quantum mechanics still disagree. That's a good thing. It means that there's some other, even more monumental idea out there that fully explains both. "

      Came in the mail a week ago. Haven't had time to read it yet...

      Unification Accomplished: Einstein's dream realized in the Single Field Theory

    4. Andy the ex-Brit
      Pint

      Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

      "I know there's a few ideas for that floating around, but whoever nails it will be owed something more grand than the Nobel physics prize..."

      A Nobel prize, plus a pint?

  4. arctic_haze

    I'm relieved to hear that

    What happens in the black hole stays in the black hole.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: I'm relieved to hear that

      Why, what have you disposed of in our local cosmic refuse basket, and why do you not want to see it again?!

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I'm relieved to hear that

      Vegas is a black hole? Explains things a bit...

    3. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: I'm relieved to hear that

      What happens in the black hole stays in the black hole.

      Um, possibly.

  5. M7S

    Any sign of VINCENT?

    One of the better things from The Black Hole.

    At least, at the age I was then

  6. AIBailey

    Numbers...

    "They only considered black holes weighing more than 100 million times the mass of the Sun, allowing them to narrow down to about a million of them within a few billion light-years of Earth.

    The sheer scale of numbers in this statement is what makes this kind of science so awesome!

  7. Faux Science Slayer

    97% of the Universe is composed of math particles and hyperdense equations....

    "Mysterious Dr X says, Universe is Not Expanding" at CanadaFreePress, May 2010

    with a Rotational Universe model, there is NO dark stuff necessary....

    Kirchoff, Planck errors > https://youtu.be/3Hstum3U2zw

    "Does Sun Have a Surface" by Dr Pierre-Marie Robitaille, on YouTube

  8. Axman

    Both Event Horizon & Supermassive Particle!!?

    Bear with me...

    The commonly espoused version of Black Holes posit a Singularity at the center where matter is crushed beyond what physics can predict about it, with an event horizon further out where the matter sucked within (and the information contained therein) becomes becomes lost to our universe.

    Now as I understand it, light cannot escape from a Black Hole not because it is sucked into the Singularity but because once it 'dips' below the event horizon space-time is so curved that the photons orbit around the Singularity.

    Now suppose that there is some kind of exotic supermassive particle 'larger' than a Singularity (i.e. existing in space-time and obeying all the laws of physics), but that this supermassive thing is smaller than the event horizon. In this case the results from the search would show the results as were gathered, and the supermassive particle would still be invisible - the star's matter would descend down and hit the hard surface of the supermassive particle whilst the radiation would circle space-time below the event horizon.

    I've always been concerned about a singularity being totally unexplainable (and therefore somewhat 'un-scientific') whereas a supermassive particle only needs a small unknown quantity to enter into the equations to prevent the downward collapse of matter at a density prior to singularity-dom and thus still remain within the realms of explainable physics.

    (NB If however Singularities do exist - and I'm not saying they don't, just that I'd prefer that they didn't - then I quite like the idea that they form some kind of feedback loop to the Big Bang and therefore re-enter the possibly explainable realm that is physics!)

  9. Stevie

    Bah!

    Oh yeah? Prove iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  10. lone_wolf

    ejected material

    so if i understood this correctly the scientist were looking for basically debris kicked up from the impact similar to any ordinary impact?

    if that is so how would that even be possible given that the debris would have to traveling faster than the speed of light to have a possibility of being thrown up to form a temporary cloud?

  11. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    "I've always been concerned about a singularity being totally unexplainable"

    And possibly not even needed to explain black holes and even horizons. The common description of a black hole: A region of space where space-time is so curved by the total mass contained within such that that light cannot escape. That describes the closed version of our universe. That is, if you had binoculars powerful enough, you could stare off into space and see the back of your head as you stared off into space (billions of light years in the past, so be patient).

    Given sufficient mass (dark matter, etc) we might be living in a black hole. With no singularity in sight.

  12. Willington

    "Black holes are strange objects that can grow to monstrous sizes."

    Surely black holes don't grow in size at all, just mass. It's the event horizon that grows, not the black hole.

  13. deconstructionist

    Nice to see some sense

    well played, that is the question these little men in white coats tried to answer, is a black hole an actual hole in space time which objects fall into or is it an event horizon which is just a envelope of looped space-time which objects crash against.

    Our point of perception in space-time ( i.e travel through time at C )makes it entirely impossible for us to tell the difference just by looking directly at it as the gravity involved almost makes an event horizon a moment in a past time frame within space-time.

    And as we can't look into a past which does not permit light to travel through it, I also hate to say it makes this study slightly mute , as they are looking for confirmation on an absence of something , but the absence may be derived from the point of perception and means used to test it.

    All we can say form this is these measurements show this method of investigation is inconclusive.

    It is certainly not proof of anything.

    1. Unicornpiss

      Re: Nice to see some sense

      Here's a question then... Since photons continually move at the speed of light, they do not experience time. So if a photon "falls" into a black hole's event horizon, where time effectively stops (and the photon too), and a photon must always move at the speed of light, what happens?

  14. xinhangshen

    Katyanna Quach, do you know that the atomic clocks on the GPS satellites, which have huge velocities relative to each other, after all corrections, are synchronized not only relative to the ground clocks but also to each other (i.e. synchronized in all reference frames)? What does that mean? It means that time is absolute, not relative as claimed by special relativity. As time is absolute, there is no such thing called spacetime continuum in nature and thus all spacetime based theories including general relativity are wrong theories.

    If you don't agree with me, please present your reasoning here and let us have a debate!

    1. Katyanna Quach

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