Sunday, April 22, 2018

Quantum gravity inside and outside black holes

Tuesday, Apr 3rd

Hal Haggard, Bard College
Title: Quantum Gravity Inside and Outside Black Holes 
PDF of the talk (5M)
Audio+Slides of the talk (19M)
By Jorge Pullin, Louisiana State University

The talk consisted of two distinct parts. The second part discussed black holes exploding into white holes. We have covered the topic in this blog before, and the new results were a bit technical for a new update, mainly a better handle on the time the process takes, so we will not discuss them here.

The first part concerned itself with how the interior of a black hole would look like in a quantum theory. Black holes are regions of space-time from which nothing can escape and are bounded by a spherical surface called the horizon. Anything that ventures beyond the horizon can never escape the black hole. Black holes develop when stars exhaust their nuclear fuel and start to contract under the attraction of gravity. Eventually gravity becomes too intense for anything to escape and a horizon forms.

The interior of the horizon however, is drastically different if a black hole has rotation or not. If the black hole does not rotate, anything that falls into the black hole is crushed in a central singularity where, presumably, all the mass of the initial star concentrated. If the black hole has rotation however, the structure is more complicated and infalling matter can avoid hitting the singularity and move into further regions of space-time inside the black hole.

This raises the question: what happens with all this in a quantum theory of gravity. Presumably a state representing a non-rotating black hole will consist of a superposition of black holes with rotation, peaked around zero rotation, but with contributions from black holes with small amounts of rotation. How does the interior of a non-rotating quantum black hole look when it is formed through a superposition of rotating black holes? This is an interesting question since the interior of rotating black holes are so different from their non-rotating relatives.

The talk concludes that the resulting interior actually does resemble that of a non-rotating black hole. The key observation is that one cannot trust the classical theory all the way to the singularity and that leads to the superposition having large curvatures where one would have expected the singularity of the non-rotating black hole to be.