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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bouncing Black Holes May Cause the Sun to Suddenly Vanish

The sun has been shining for billions of years, and scientists say that in all probability it will continue shining brightly for billions of additional years. We assume that there is 100% probability that the sun will continue to shine throughout our lifetimes. But surprisingly enough, there is a very small chance that the sun will suddenly disappear at any time -- perhaps a thousand years from now, perhaps ten years from now, or perhaps even tomorrow.

The sun might vanish at any time because there is a very small chance that a particular theory I will now describe is true. If this theory is true, the sun might instantly disappear at any time.

The theory I mention is a theory involving black hole collapses. To explain that theory, I must first discuss why scientists think that black holes are formed. Scientists say that black holes are formed when very massive stars begin to collapse, with the collapse being caused by the enormous gravity of the star. A star that is more than five times more massive than the sun has a tremendous gravity many times higher than the gravity of our planet. But such a star emits lots of energy through thermonuclear fusion, and that causes an outward force that balances the inward force caused by the star's gravity.

But when the star nears the end of its lifetime and runs out of hydrogen and usable helium to burn as nuclear fuel, then there is no longer any outward force to counteract the force of gravity. The star's enormous gravity causes the star to suddenly shrink in size. Gravity crushes the mass of the star in a mighty collapse. Scientists think this causes a supernova explosion, along with the formation of a black hole. Much of the star's mass is blasted off into space, but the remaining mass then collapses into a state of infinite density called a black hole.

What happens to all that matter once this black hole forms? This is a matter for speculation; no one knows for sure. There are many exotic speculations. One speculation advanced by more than one scientist is that when black holes are formed, they create a spacetime wormhole. The idea is that the matter lost in a black hole travels through a wormhole, and then suddenly appears elsewhere in the universe. Such a sudden appearance has been called a white hole. Of course, this idea is pure speculation, and there is no evidence for white holes. But let us consider what the consequences might be if white holes were to be created from the creation of a black hole.

If a white hole were to be created, one possibility is that we might suddenly see a gushing of matter coming out from some point in space, perhaps some point in interstellar space. But we've never observed anything like that happening. So let's consider another possibility.

Another possibility is that once a white hole is created from a black hole, the white hole then immediately collapses to become a black hole again. This would make sense from a gravitational standpoint. Imagine if a star of 10 solar masses were to collapse, causing 7 solar masses to collapse into a black hole. That might cause the appearance of a white hole elsewhere in the universe. But an instant after that white hole appeared, you would then have 7 solar masses suddenly existing in some small area. Gravity would then probably cause all that matter to collapse in a process similar to the process that produced the original black hole.

We are led, then, to a fascinating possibility – the possibility of “ever-bouncing” black holes. The creation of a black hole might be the beginning of a process that works like this:
  1. A super-massive star collapses to become a black hole.
  2. The black-hole creates a spacetime wormhole, which causes the appearance of a white hole somewhere else in the universe, as the mass from the star collapse reappears elsewhere.
  3. The matter coming from that white hole is so dense and concentrated that it very soon collapses to become another black hole.
  4. That black-hole creates a spacetime wormhole, which causes the appearance of a white hole somewhere else in the universe.
  5. These steps keep repeating over and over again endlessly, ad infinitum, forever and ever.
white hole

Theory of ever-bouncing black holes

Because many black holes have been created in the history of the universe, if this “ever-bouncing” black hole theory is true, then white holes could be appearing at various points in the universe millions of times every second. 

At this point the reader may well be thinking: well, that's a fascinating idea, but it is no reason for thinking that the sun may suddenly vanish – because the sun is not a supermassive star of the type that becomes a black hole.

It is true that the sun will never become a black hole purely because of its own gravity. But if this wild theory of “ever-bouncing” black holes is correct, then the sun still might be in danger. This is because when a white hole appears from the creation of a black hole, the white hole could randomly appear within the volume of the sun.

If we assume that a white hole appears at a random position in space, it is overwhelmingly likely that the white hole would appear in interstellar space, the space between stars. But there is a very small but nonzero chance that the white hole could appear in the worst possible place – right in the very volume of space that the sun occupies. Who knows, there could be some strange relativistic reason why a white hole is more likely to appear where there is already matter, perhaps something along the lines of matter being attracted to matter.

If such a white hole were to suddenly appear within the volume of the sun, it would be as if the sun were to suddenly acquire a mass many times greater. Most of that mass would be material that could not be used for nuclear fusion. So rather than suddenly becoming much brighter, the sun would suddenly be like a super-massive star at the end of its lifetime, about to collapse into the super-density of a black hole. Shortly thereafter, the sun would presumably collapse to become a black hole. There might or might not be the flash of a supernova explosion. Then the sun would vanish.

Imagine what it would like for you if this were to happen. You might go to work one day at the office. Then in the middle of the day, people would suddenly start shouting, as they noticed that it was inexplicably dark outside. Some people would say: “Wow, I didn't know there was a total eclipse today.” People would wait for the supposed eclipse to end. But the sunlight would never return.

People would gradually realize that the sun was gone forever. There would then be a desperate struggle, as everyone tried to gather up food, clothing, and generators that might allow them to survive as long as possible in the cold. It would soon become colder than the North Pole. Crops would stop growing. Remnants of the human race would probably be able to survive for a few months longer until the food and fuel ran out. A few lucky ones might even be able to survive for a few years.

Of course, the chance of this happening is extremely remote, but it is interesting to realize that there are theoretical reasons why the sun might suddenly vanish at any time. I don't know what effect such speculation has on you, but I, for one, am going to take serious measures to protect myself from this theoretical cosmic menace.

I am going to go out right now and buy myself a nice pair of wool mittens.