Black holes aren't surrounded by "firewalls," study says

A new study uses string theory to examine black holes and provide evidence contrary to theories that suggest black hole "firewalls."
By Tyler MacDonald | Jul 27, 2018
Researchers from The Ohio State University suggest that black holes aren't surrounding by a "firewall," and are essentially perpetually growing balls of string.

Although some physicists suggest that there is a "firewall" around black holes that can incinerate anything sucked into its gravitational pull, the new study examines what would happen if an electron was sucked into a standard black hole.

"The probability of the electron hitting a photon from the radiation and burning up is negligible, dropping even further if one considers larger black holes known to exist in space," said Samir Mathur, a professor of physics at Ohio State.

The team came to their conclusion through months of mathematical research built on string theory, which posits that the universe is composed of string-like tubes of energy that exist at a subatomic level.

"The question is 'Where does the black hole grab you?' We think that as a person approaches the horizon, the fuzzball surface grows to meet it before it has a chance to reach the hottest part of the radiation, and this is a crucial finding in this new physics paper that invalidates the firewall argument," Mathur said.

"Once a person falling into the black hole is tangled up in strings, there's no easy way to decide what he will feel," he continued."

"The firewall argument had seemed like a quick way to prove that something falling through the horizon burns up. But we now see that there cannot be any such quick argument; what happens can only be decided by detailed calculations in string theory."


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