Providing strongest evidence to the prediction made by physicist Stephen Hawking more than 30 years ago, scientists have created a virtual black hole in the lab and observed particles slipping out of its grasp.
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According to Hawking's prediction, black holes might not be bottomless pits and some information can escape black holes in the form of energy.
If a particle and its antimatter appeared spontaneously at the edge of a black hole, one of the pair might be pulled into the black hole while the other escaped, taking some of the energy from the black hole with it.
In the research, published in the journal Nature Physics, Jeff Steinhauer, a physicist at the Israel Institute of Technology, has created an artificial black hole that seems to prove that Hawking's theory of radiation emanating from black holes is correct -- though his experiments are based on sound, rather than light.
"Black-hole analogues might help to solve some of the dilemmas that the phenomenon poses for other theories, including one called the black-hole information paradox, and perhaps point the way to uniting quantum mechanics with a theory of gravity," said Steinhauer.
For many years, scientists believed that nothing could ever escape from a black hole, not even light.
In order to study the quantum nature of Hawking radiation, the researcher instead turned to using a Bose Einstein condensate of rubidium-87 atoms - a type of superfluid.
For the experiment, Steinhauer consisted of creating an entangled pair of phonons sitting inside a bit of liquid that had been forced to move very fast and then observing the action as one of the pair was pulled away as the liquid began to move faster than the speed of sound, while the other escaped.
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After repeating the experiment 4,600 times, Steinhauer became convinced that the particles were entangled, a necessity for a Hawking radiation analogue.