A team of astronomers has discovered a strange object that may exist around a pair of black holes. The discovery could help unravel the identity of dark matter and reveal the nature of space-time.
New research has found that the special particle can exist around a pair of black holes in a similar way to how an electron exists around a pair of hydrogen atoms. It is the first time that the existence of a so-called “Gravitational molecule” has never been explained.
To understand what all this means, it is necessary to remember that in modern physics the electron is represented as a field, a mathematical object that has a value for every point in space and time.
An atom is basically a tiny nucleus surrounded by the electron field. That electron field responds to the presence of the nucleus and allows the electron to appear only in certain regions.
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Interestingly, a black hole’s environment can be described in a similar way. The center of a black hole is somewhat like the nucleus of an atom, while its surroundings are similar to what a subatomic particle describes.
The authors of the new study found that particular types of fields – called scalar fields – can exist around binary black holes. It has also been found that they can form in patterns that resemble how electron fields organize themselves into molecules.
The breakthrough means that scientists may soon be able to detect dark matter with existing gravitational wave detectors. It raises the tantalizing prospect of shining a light in the dark sector of the little understood cosmos.
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