Better choose your black hole wisely.
That 'fantasy' may be
closer to reality than previously imagined.
This dense and hot singularity punches a hole in the fabric of spacetime itself, possibly opening up an opportunity for hyperspace travel.
That is, a short cut
through spacetime allowing for travel over cosmic scale distances in
a short period.
The hot and dense singularity would cause the spacecraft to endure a sequence of increasingly uncomfortable tidal stretching and squeezing before being completely vaporized.
If the black hole like Sagittarius A*, located at the center of our own galaxy, is large and rotating, then the outlook for a spacecraft changes dramatically.
That's because the
singularity that a spacecraft would have to contend with is very
gentle and could allow for a very peaceful passage.
At first, this fact may seem counter intuitive.
But one can think of it
as analogous to the common experience of quickly passing one's
finger through a candle's near 2,000-degree flame, without getting
Hold your finger close to the flame and it will burn.
Swipe it through quickly and you won't feel much.
Similarly, passing through a large rotating black hole,
you are more likely to come out the other side unharmed.
In 2016, my Ph.D. student, Caroline Mallary, inspired by Christopher Nolan's blockbuster film "Interstellar," set out to test if Cooper (Matthew McConaughey's character), could survive his fall deep into Gargantua - a fictional, supermassive, rapidly rotating black hole some 100 million times the mass of our sun.
"Interstellar" was based
on a book written by Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist
Kip Thorne and Gargantua's
physical properties are central to the plot of this Hollywood movie.
orbiting the black hole Gargantua,
in the movie ‘Interstellar.'
This is the singularity that an object entering a rotating black hole cannot maneuver around or avoid.
Not only that, under the right circumstances, these effects may be negligibly small, allowing for a rather comfortable passage through the singularity. In fact, there may no noticeable effects on the falling object at all.
This increases the
feasibility of using large, rotating black holes as portals for
But for very large black holes like Gargantua, the strength of this effect would be very small.
So, the spacecraft and
any individuals on board would not detect it.
This graph depicts
the physical strain on the spacecraft's steel frame
as it plummets into a rotating black hole.
The inset shows a detailed zoom-in for very late times.
The important thing to note is that the strain
increases dramatically close to the black hole,
but does not grow indefinitely.
Therefore, the spacecraft and its inhabitants
may survive the journey.
There are a few important simplifying assumptions and resulting caveats in the context of Mallary's model.
The main assumption is that the black hole under consideration is completely isolated and thus not subject to constant disturbances by a source such as another star in its vicinity or even any falling radiation.
While this assumption
allows important simplifications, it is worth noting that most black
holes are surrounded by cosmic material - dust, gas, radiation.
Needless to say, we do
not have the capability of performing real experiments in or near
black holes yet, so scientists resort to theory and simulations to
develop an understanding, by making predictions and new discoveries.