In 1974, Stephen Hawking launched a theory that the universe’s darkest gravitational behemoths, namely black holes, weren’t the pitch-black star eaters imagined by astronomers. Still, they emitted light spontaneously, a phenomenon now known as Hawking radiation.
However, many scientists were puzzled because nobody managed to observe Hawking’s mysterious radiation, and because it is incredibly dim, they most likely won’t be able to observe it anytime soon.
A solution was rapidly proposed – lab-made black holes.
Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology did precisely that.
They were attempting to confirm two of Hawking’s most popular predictions. The Hawking radiation arises from nothing, and it doesn’t change in intensity over time, which means that it is stationary.
Jeff Steinhauer, the study’s co-author and an associate professor of physics from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology stated:
“A black hole is supposed to radiate like a black body, which is essentially a warm object that emits a constant infrared radiation. […]Hawking suggested that black holes are just like regular stars, which radiate a certain type of radiation all the time, constantly. That’s what we wanted to confirm in our study, and we did.”
Black holes have gravitational pulls so strong that not even light can escape them. Once any light particle passes the point of no return, also known as the event horizon, it can’t leave the singularity.
The researchers managed to create a miniature black hole with flowing gas consisting of approximately 8,000 rubidium atoms cooled to nearly zero Kelvin and kept in place via laser beam.
The matter exists in a mysterious state, known as a Bose-Einstein Condensate.
It was impressive how the miniature model was on par with Hawking’s predictions.