Scientists managed to create a quantum black hole simulator
Scientists have succeeded in creating a giant quantum vortex, which is a special form of liquid helium that exhibits quantum effects. This vortex has certain properties similar to black holes, which allows it to be used as a kind of simulator.
This is stated in the study published on the arXiv preprint portal. The work of the scientists is currently awaiting review by the scientific community and publication in the specialized press.
In the regions around black holes, the interaction between the laws of gravity and quantum mechanics leads to effects that do not exist anywhere else in space. It is not surprising that scientists want to study these areas as best as they can.
"There are a lot of interesting physical phenomena happening around black holes, but most of them are out of reach. So we can use these quantum simulators to investigate the phenomena that occur around black holes," explained Silke Weinfurtner from the University of Nottingham in the UK.
To create their simulator, the scientists used superfluid helium, which flows with an extremely low viscosity: 500 times lower than water. As helium moves without friction, it exhibits unusual quantum effects. That is why this liquid is known as quantum.
In their experiment, the scientists placed helium in a tank with a propeller at the bottom, which helped create a tornado-like vortex in the liquid. The scientists explained that similar vortices have been created before but with other liquids. However, "their strength was usually smaller." In this case, the strength and size of the vortex are crucial for creating interaction between the vortex and the rest of the liquid in the tank.
As New Scientist notes, the vortex created was only a few millimeters across but it is significantly larger than other stable vortices that have been created in quantum liquids. Creating such a large vortex is difficult because in quantum liquids, rotation can only occur in tiny "packets" called quanta.
When such small vortices come together, they lose their stability, but in the latest work, scientists have managed to combine about 40,000 quanta to form this millimeter-long yet giant quantum vortex.
During the experiments, the scientists were able to see how tiny waves interacted with the vortex. This process mimics the cosmic fields that interact with rotating black holes.
They were also able to see hints of a black hole phenomenon known as the ringdown mode. This phenomenon is formed after the merger of two black holes when one of them oscillates due to the residual energy from the process.
Since the scientists were able to demonstrate that this type of vortex exhibits behavior similar to that of black holes, they intend to use it to study more elusive phenomena in the future.
"This is a great starting point for exploring several processes of black hole physics, with the potential to find new knowledge and discover hidden treasures along the way," Weinfurthner said.