Physicists claim wormholes may have been detected, with help from a new theoretical model – The Debrief

A Bulgarian research team has announced a method it says could be used to detect wormholes, theoretical structures that, if they exist, might be able to connect points far apart in spacetime.

Wormholes have long captured the imagination of physicists. Part of this fascination has to do with the fact that wormholes, like the concept of time travel, are consistent with Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Despite their theoretical plausibility, scientists have yet to find correlates for these concepts in practical reality.

Detecting wormholes is problematic, primarily because these mind-bending structures would hypothetically be nearly indistinguishable from black holes, regions of space that are the likely products of a star that has run out of fuel and collapsed. on itself, detectable by scientists primarily by the intense gravity they exert on nearby objects in space.

Add to their similarity to black holes the fact that we still don’t know if wormholes actually exist, and the process of reliable detection becomes even more difficult.

That may soon change, however, based on the findings of a team from Sofia University in Bulgaria, who claim to have developed an innovative new method that could help scientists tell black holes from their cousins​​ hypothetical.

In a new article published in Physical examination D, the team, consisting of Valentin Deliyski, Galin Gyulchev, Petya Nedkova and Stoytcho Yazadjiev, studied the linear polarization produced by accretion disks, rotating formations of matter visible around black holes and other astronomical objects consisting mainly of gas, plasma or star dust.

According to the team’s paper, they looked for specific signatures in the polarization properties of these formations, which they hoped would help them determine the difference between black holes and any suspected wormhole candidates.

According to the team’s paper, their study relied on analyzing images of suspicious regions of space where wormholes might be lurking including various angles of inclination, compared to indirect images. exhibiting strong gravitational lensing, and finally, images displaying polarized radiation that “reaches the asymptotic”. observer through the throat of the wormhole.

These images were then compared to one of the simplest types of black holes, known as the Schwarzschild black hole. First conceptualized by Karl Schwarzschild in 1915 shortly after Einstein unveiled his theory of general relativity, these black holes are believed to possess mass but have no electric charge or spin. Based on these comparisons, the team was able to produce a new, simplified model of a hypothetical wormhole’s throat, which allowed them to make predictions about how the material around it might behave. unlike matter sucked into a black hole.

Artist’s impression of how wormholes might be visualized (Credit: Alain R. CC BY-SA 3.0).

According to the researcher’s models, the light emitted by any particle surrounding a wormhole would be polarized by the strong magnetic fields it produces. Conveniently, these very types of polarized emissions have already been detected in recent years, leading to the first images of M87 which were captured in 2019. Similar detections also resulted in imagery of Sagittarius A* captured earlier in 2022.

According to the team’s models, M87 could itself be a wormhole, leaving open the possibility that wormholes could be hidden in association with many other black holes. The question is, how exactly do we detect them?

One way is to observe suspected wormholes indirectly using gravitational lenses, which could reveal some of the properties suggested by the Bulgarian team’s modeling to differentiate these structures from black holes. As they note in their paper, “more significant distinctions are observed for indirect strong-lens images”, adding that the polarization intensity alongside suspect wormholes “can reach an order of magnitude compared to the black hole of Schwarzschild”.


Alternatively, if a suspicious candidate were to be detected that could be seen at an angle where light is observed passing its entrance and moving in the direction of Earth, the resulting signatures could also allow for the detection of a wormhole. Specifically, the researchers describe that “radiation of the region through the throat of the wormhole leads to the formation of an additional structure of ring images”, which can be distinguished due to its “distinct polarization properties “.

Although the team concedes it would be difficult to tell wormholes apart based solely on the polarization they produce, the images showing strong gravitational lensing and polarization of radiation as they pass through the entrance to the wormhole. ver help by providing “characteristic signatures that can serve as probes for horizonless objects”.

In other words, the unique combinations of signatures described by the team, based on their new models, could greatly help detect which black holes might behave more like wormholes…structures long speculated in the space-time that could very well have been hiding in plain sight on.

The team’s paper, “Polarized image of equatorial emission in horizonless spacetimes: Traversable wormholes”, was published in Physical examination D on November 10, 2022.

Micah Hanks is editor and co-founder of The Debrief. Follow his work on micahhanks.com and on Twitter: @MicahHanks.

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