Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Black holes exploding into white hole fireworks

Tuesday, Oct 24th

Marios Christodoulou, Aix Marseille U/SUSTec Shenzen
Title: Geometry transition in covariant LQG: black to white 
PDF of the talk (3M)
Audio+Slides [.mp4 11MB]

By Jorge Pullin, LSU

Black holes are regions of space-time where gravity is so intense that nothing, including light, can escape, hence they are black. They are expected to form as stars exhaust their nuclear fuel and start to contract due to gravitational attraction. Eventually they become so dense that a black hole forms. According to classical general relativity, the star matter continues to contract inside the black hole until the density diverges. That is what is known as a "singularity". Obviously nothing can diverge in nature so it is believed that the singularities are an indication that one has pushed general relativity beyond its domain of validity. One expects that at high densities quantum effects should arise and a theory of quantum gravity is needed. There has been some progress in spherically symmetric loop quantum gravity that indicates that the singularity is replaced by a highly quantum region that eventually leads to another classical region of space-time beyond it. 

At the same time Hawking showed in the 70's that if one puts quantum fields to live on the classical background of a black hole, radiation is emitted as if the black hole behaved as a black body with a temperature inversely proportional to the black hole's mass. There is no contradiction with the black hole radiating because the radiation is produced by the quantum field outside the black hole. If the black hole radiates, then it should lose energy. Hawking's calculation cannot study this, because it assumes the quantum field lives in a fixed black hole background. It is expected that more precise calculations including the back-reaction of the field on the background should make the black hole shrink as it emits radiation. As the temperature increases as the black hole loses mass (it is inversely proportional to the mass) the black hole heats up and radiates more. Eventually it should evaporate completely. No detailed analysis of such evaporation is available at present. Such evaporation raises many questions, in particular what happened to the singularity inside the black hole (or the highly  quantum region that apparently replaces it). What happened to all the information of the matter that formed the black hole? Is it lost?

The work described in this seminar posits that the highly quantum region inside the black hole transitions into the future into a "white hole" (the time reverse of a black hole). A great explosion in which all the information that entered the black hole exits. This scenario is known as "fireworks". An important question is: does the explosion happen fast enough for it to make the loss of information through Hawking radiation irrelevant? In this seminar spin foams are used to try to address the question. The calculation at hand is to compute the probability of transition from a black hole to a white hole. There are many assumptions needed to make such calculation, so the results are at the moment tentative. However, the main conclusion seems to be that the explosion takes as long as the process of Hawking evaporation to take place. This may rule out the "fireworks" as candidates for fast radio bursts that have been observed by astronomers, but may keep in play other astrophysical predictions associated with them.

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