A fresh perspective on Einstein’s theory of relativity could revolutionize our understanding of black holes. Astrophysics has long struggled with the concept that “black holes have no hair,” meaning they are defined by just three characteristics: mass, electric charge, and spin rate, leaving them devoid of additional information. This limitation has vexed scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries of these cosmic objects.
However, a group of theoretical physicists has explored an alternative theory of gravity known as “teleparallel” gravity. Unlike traditional general relativity, which centers on space-time curvature, teleparallel gravity focuses on the “twistiness” of space-time caused by mass or energy. Though mathematically equivalent to curvature-based relativity, this approach offers novel insights.
In their research, the team introduced scalar fields, quantum entities with widespread spatial and temporal presence, into teleparallel gravity. These scalar fields, previously used to explain phenomena like dark matter and dark energy, were investigated for their impact on black holes. Remarkably, they discovered that within the teleparallel framework, black holes acquire what can be called “hair,” a strong scalar field near the event horizon containing valuable information about the black hole’s properties.
This groundbreaking revelation opens new possibilities for studying black holes from a distance, potentially through gravitational wave observations. Scientists expect to find subtle signs of these scalar fields during black hole collisions that will shed light on the mysterious celestial objects.
First Image of a Black Hole Blasting Out Jet
As it was reported in April, astronomers have managed to capture the first-ever direct image of a black hole emitting a powerful jet. This remarkable image provides unprecedented clarity in observing a supermassive black hole situated at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, which had never been directly observed before.
In this discovery, scientists have, for the first time, observed the connection between the base of a high-speed jet and the matter surrounding the supermassive black hole before it gets consumed—a process known as “accretion.” Prior images of the M87 black hole and its jet depicted them separately, but this new image presents both phenomena together.
The image, taken with radio telescopes, including the Global Millimetre VLBI Array, the Greenland Telescope, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, highlights the emergence of the jet from the emission ring encircling the central supermassive black hole. This ring is fifty percent larger than in previous images, suggesting that the black hole is consuming matter at a faster rate than previously estimated.