Thanks to films such as Interstellar and the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, most people know what a black hole is.
And thanks to more recent film such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, or Everything Everywhere All At Once, we’re increasingly aware that there could be other entire Universes somewhere beyond our plane of existence.
Polish theoretical physicist Nikodem Popławski thinks that those two exotic scientific phenomena could be connected. Literally.
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Nikodem theorises that every black hole contains a brand-new universe.
In fact, he tells the Daily Star, our entire universe could exist inside a black hole that in turn is part of another universe.
Black holes are now thought to vary in size from very tiny – perhaps microscopic in size – to the supermassive monsters at the heart of galaxies.
The black hole at the heart of the M87 galaxy is a whopping 24 billion miles across, for example, although its mass is thought to be around six and a half billion times that of over Sun.
But whether they’re big or small, Nikodem told us, every one of them could have an entire Universe hidden inside.
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“A baby universe is … a separate, closed spacetime branch with its own timeline,” he explains.
“It is bigger than the parent black hole because it is the other side of the event horizon. It is like Tardis in Doctor Who. You enter the police box and you realise that you are in something bigger than the box”.
While the existence of black holes was first suggested as long ago as 1783 by the English philosopher and mathematician John Michell, the concept only really became part of mainstream physics after Einstein published his theory of general relativity in the early 20th Century.
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Since then, physicists have been constantly refining their models of what such an exotic object could look like and how it might behave.
“Following the [Einstein-Cartan] theory of gravity, every black hole produces a new, baby universe inside and becomes an Einstein-Rosen bridge (wormhole) that connects this universe to the parent universe in which the black hole exists,” Nikodem explains.
“In the new universe, the parent universe appears as the other side of the only white hole, a region of space that cannot be entered from the outside and which can be thought of as the time reverse of a black hole.
“Accordingly, our own Universe could be the interior of a black hole existing in another universe”.
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While in science fiction alternative universes are fanatical places, often with wildly varying laws of physics, Nikodem thinks that a physical force called “torsion” would tend to carry the laws of physics from the parent universe through into the new baby reality.
However, sadly, not much else will, Nikodem thinks. There’s not much chance of anyone ever managing to visit al alternate Universe.
“An Einstein-Rosen bridge to a new universe would not be traversable,” he says, “because a traversable wormhole is defined as a wormhole connecting two parts of the same universe and through which one can travel in both directions”.
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But that doesn’t mean black holes can’t help us explore the far reaches of space.
In principle, Nikodem says, the powerful gravitational pull of a rotating black hole could be used to slingshot spaceships, accelerating them to incredible speeds.
The closest known black hole to Earth, so far at least, is a mere 1500 light years away from us. Called Gaia BH1, it is estimated to be about 10 times the mass of our sun.
But there could be another black hole right in our cosmic back yard.
Scientists theorise that a mysterious unknown force acting on objects at the far reaches of our solar system could be a micro black hole, roughly the size of a grapefruit.
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