Since the beginning of the Digital Age (ca. the 1970s), theoretical physicists have speculated about the possible connection between information and the physical Universe. Considering that all matter is made up of information that describes the state of a quantum system (aka. quantum information), and genetic information is coded in our DNA, it’s not farfetched at all to think that physical reality can be expressed in terms of data.
This has led to many thought experiments and paradoxes, where researchers have attempted to estimate the information capacity of the cosmos. In a recent study, Dr. Melvin M. Vopson – a Mathematician and Senior Lecturer at Portsmouth University – offered new estimates of how much information is encoded in all the baryonic matter (aka. ordinary or “luminous” matter) in the Universe.
Continue reading “There are 6×10^80 Bits of Information in the Observable Universe”
The first black holes to appear in the universe may have formed from the direct collapse of gas. When they collapsed, they released a flood of radiation, including radio waves. A new study has found that the next generation of massive radio telescopes may be able to detect these bursts, giving precious insights into a critical epoch in the history of the universe.
Continue reading “Next Generation Telescopes Could Detect the Direct Collapse of Enormous Black Holes Near the Beginning of Time”
The tumultuous era of the big bang may have been chaotic enough to flood the universe with primordial black holes. Eventually some of those black holes will find each other and merge, sending out ripples of gravitational waves. A comprehensive search for those gravitational wave signatures hasn’t found anything, putting tight constraints on the abundance of these mysterious objects.
Continue reading “Gravitational-Wave Observatories Should be Able to Detect Primordial Black Hole Mergers, if They’re out There”
A supermassive black hole (SMBH) likely resides at the center of the Milky Way, and in the centers of other galaxies like it. It’s never been seen though. It was discovered by watching a cluster of stars near the galactic center, called S stars.
S stars’ motions indicated the presence of a massive object in the Milky Way’s center and the scientific community mostly agreed that it must be an SMBH. It’s named Sagittarius A*.
But some scientists wonder if it really is a black hole. And one of the S stars could answer that question and a few others about black holes.
Continue reading “One Star Could Answer Many Unsolved Questions About Black Holes”
Even the most supermassive of the supermassive black holes aren’t very large, making it extremely difficult to measure their sizes. However, astronomers have recently developed a new technique that can estimate the mass of a black hole based on the movement of hot gas around them – even when the black hole itself it smaller than a single pixel.
Continue reading “Astronomers Have a new way to Measure the Mass of Supermassive Black Holes”
Astronomers have been using gravitational waves to detect merging black holes for years now, but may have to rely on pulsars – rapidly spinning neutron stars – to observe the mergers of supermassive black holes.
Continue reading “Astronomers Might use Pulsars to First Detect Merging Supermassive Black Holes”
Is there anywhere in the Universe where we can escape from radiation? Certainly not here on Earth. And not in space itself, which is filled with diffuse radiation in the form of gamma rays and neutrinos. Scientists have struggled to explain where all those gamma rays and neutrinos come from. A trio of researchers is proposing a source for all that radiation in a new paper: resting black holes.
Continue reading “Even the Quiet Supermassive Black Holes are Blasting out Neutrinos and Gamma Rays”
Supermassive black holes (SMBH) reside in the center of galaxies like the Milky Way. They are mind-bogglingly massive, ranging from 1 million to 10 billion solar masses. Their smaller brethren, intermediate-mass black holes (IMBH), ranging between 100 and 100,000 solar masses, are harder to find.
Astronomers have spotted an intermediate-mass black hole destroying a star that got too close. They’ve learned a lot from their observations and hope to find even more of these black holes. Observing more of them may lead to understanding how SMBHs got so massive.
Continue reading “Astronomers Discover an Intermediate-Mass Black Hole as it Destroys a Star”
In the classical theory of general relativity, black holes are relatively simple objects. They can be described by just three properties: mass, charge, and rotation. But we know that general relativity is an incomplete theory. Quantum mechanics is most apparent in the behavior of tiny objects, but it also plays a role in large objects such as black holes. To describe black holes at a quantum level, we need a theory of quantum gravity. We don’t have a complete theory yet, but what know so far is that quantum mechanics makes black holes more complex, giving them properties such as temperature and perhaps even pressure.
Continue reading “We Knew Black Holes Have a Temperature. It Turns out They Also Have a Pressure”
If two black holes merge in the middle of space, and nobody’s around to see it, does it really happen?
Continue reading “In Addition to Gravitational Waves, is There any way to Detect Merging Black Holes”