A team of physicists may have solved the mystery surrounding the matter that is swallowed by black holes. These physicists considered wormholes — theoretical tunnels with two ends at separate points in spacetime — to explain the long-held mystery. Black holes are regions in space through which no matter can pass. The gravity of a black hole is so strong that it pulls everything inside itself and allows nothing to get out, not even light. A team from Japan’s RIKEN research institute said that black holes mimic wormholes, meaning black holes have an escape tunnel to allow matter swallowed by them to release back into the universe.

The model suggested by these scientists, including RIKEN Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences researcher Kanato Goto, appears similar to the concept seen in popular science fiction movies. However, if validated, it could solve a long-standing information paradox about black holes.

According to Albert Einstein’s Theory Of General Relativity, nothing can escape from a black hole. But Stephen Hawking predicted in the 1970s that black holes should emit radiation (Hawking radiation) as they shrink. This is known as black hole “evaporation”. If Hawking’s concept is considered, the information about the matter a black hole swallowed should also evaporate with the black hole. But quantum physics says information cannot simply disappear from the Universe, leading to the paradox.

“This suggests that general relativity and quantum mechanics as they currently stand are inconsistent with each other. We have to find a unified framework for quantum gravity,” Goto said in a statement.

Several efforts have been made to understand whether information can escape from black holes, but a definite answer is still warranted. In theory, Goto and his colleagues have found an explanation to what happens to this information. “A wormhole connects the interior of the black hole and the radiation outside, like a bridge,” he said. But some questions remain unanswered. “We still don’t know the basic mechanism of how information is carried away by the radiation,” Goto added.

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