Monday, November 8, 2010

Black Hole Radiation Simulated in Lab

For the first time, scientists have been able to simulate the type of radiation likely to be emitted from black holes.

A team of Italian scientists fired a laser beam into a chunk of glass to create an analogue (or simulation) of the Hawking radiation that many physicists expect is emitted by black holes.

A spokesperson for the research group said: "Although the laser experiment superficially bears little resemblance to ultra-dense black holes, the mathematical theories used to describe both are similar enough that confirmation of laser-induced Hawking radiation would bolster confidence that black holes also emit Hawking radiation."

The renowned physicist Stephen Hawking first predicted this sort of radiation in 1974 but it has proved elusive to detect, even in the lab. This research group was able to use a "bulk glass target" to isolate the apparent Hawking radiation from the other forms of light emitted during such experiments.

Black holes are region in space where nothing can escape, not even light. However, and despite their name, they are believed to emit weak forms of radiation (such as Hawking radiation). Physicists expect that this radiation may be so weak as to be undetectable.

The research appears in the current issue of Physical Review Letters (Free) and is also reviewed in Physics (Free).

The experimental setup for Hawking radiation detection


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