Nautilus

Are Black Holes Actually Dark Energy Stars?

George Chapline believes that the Event Horizon Telescope will offer evidence that black holes are really dark energy stars. NASA

What does the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way look like? Early next year, we might find out. The Event Horizon Telescope—really a virtual telescope with an effective diameter of the Earth—has been pointing at Sagittarius A* for the last several years. Most researchers in the astrophysics community expect that its images, taken from telescopes all over the Earth, will show the telltale signs of a black hole: a bright swirl of light, produced by a disc of gases trapped in the black hole’s orbit, surrounding a black shadow at the center—the event horizon. This encloses the region of space where the black-hole singularity’s gravitational pull is too strong for light to escape.

But George Chapline, a physicist at the that “it’s a near certainty that black holes don’t exist” and—building on previous work he’d done with physics Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin—introduced an alternative model that he dubbed “dark energy stars.” Dark energy is a term physicists use to describe a peculiar kind of energy that appears to permeate the entire universe. It expands the fabric of spacetime itself, even as gravity attempts to bring objects closer together. Chapline believes that the immense energies in a collapsing star cause its protons and neutrons to decay into a gas of photons and other elementary particles, along with what he refers to as “droplets of vacuum energy.” These form a “condensed” phase of spacetime—much like a gas under enough pressure transitions to liquid—that has a much higher density of dark energy than the spacetime surrounding the star. This provides the pressure necessary to hold gravity at bay and prevent a singularity from forming. Without a singularity in spacetime, there is no black hole.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus5 min read
A Warning from History About Simultaneous Disasters
Parts of the world might have shut down, but nature never does. Even while people stay at home and learn about physical distancing, weather, tectonic shifts, meteorites, and solar storms do not pause. With many international borders closed and an inc
Nautilus4 min readPsychology
Let’s Aim for Physical Rather Than Social Distancing
Amid all the calls in nearly every country for social distancing, the most powerful tool we have to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, one important fact gets lost: We are fundamentally social beings, and social distancing can carry a heavy ps
Nautilus4 min readSociety
Will We Have a COVID-19 Vaccine Before 2021?
Is there a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2? The internet is awash with articles and posts seeking to shed light on this very question. Currently, there is no approved vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. While several companies have announced vaccine candidates in dev