Ordered chaos: the new black hole discovery at UNIGE

Ordered chaos: the new black hole discovery at UNIGE
© Institute of High Energy Physics

Researchers at UNIGE have made a new black hole discovery, which is that photons emitted during the creation of a black hole appear to be disordered but within a single time slice, they appear to be highly ordered.

The University of Geneva, Switzerland (UNIGE) collaborated with the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) of Villigen, Switzerland, the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing and the National Center for Nuclear Research of Swierk in Poland and have made a new black hole discovery, answering the question of whether the photons emitted during black hole formation are ordered or chaotic.

When a black hole is formed, it produces a bright burst of energetic light in the form of gamma-rays, called gamma-ray bursts. The physics behind gamma-ray bursts include many of the least understood fields today. These include:

  • General gravity;
  • Extreme temperatures; and
  • The acceleration of particles far beyond the energy of the most powerful particle accelerators on Earth.

The new black hole discovery

The research team analysed these gamma-ray bursts in the laboratory.

Xin Wu, professor in the Department of Nuclear and Particle Physics of the Faculty of Sciences of UNIGE, said: “Our international teams have built together the first powerful and dedicated detector, called POLAR, capable of measuring the polarization of gamma-rays from GRBs. This instrument allows us to learn more about their source.”

They made a new black hole discovery- that the high energy photons coming from gamma-ray bursts are neither completely chaotic, nor completely organised. Within short time slices, the photons oscillate in the same direction, but the oscillation direction changes with time.

Merlin Kole said: “The results show that as the explosion takes place, something happens which causes the photons to be emitted with a different polarization direction, what this could be we really don’t know.”

Discussing the implications of this new black hole discovery, Nicolas Produit explains: “We now want to build POLAR-2, which is bigger and more precise. With that we can dig deeper into these chaotic processes, to finally discover the source of the gamma-rays and unravel the mysteries of these highly energetic physical processes.”

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