Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Potential Wormhole Detection Method

Article Written By: Jensen Lawrence


Credit: Shutterstock

Wormholes have been ubiquitous in science fiction for a long time. The prospect of a portal which transports you across the universe is too good to pass up. Surprisingly, wormholes are now a physical possibility. Wormholes agree with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which means their existence is permitted by the laws of physics. However, just because they can exist, doesn’t mean they do exist, since a positive detection of wormholes has never been made. Recently, physicists De-Chang Dai and Dejan Stojkovic published a paper outlining what a possible wormhole detection could look like, and how to look for them.

An important thing to note is that wormholes are two-directional. Theoretically, if objects can travel from point A to point B using the wormhole, then they can also travel from point B back to point A. This paper rests on the fact that if matter can be exchanged in this manner across a wormhole, then forces must also behave in the same way. For example, if a negative charge is on side A of a wormhole, and a positive charge is on side B of a wormhole, then the two charges experience an attraction to one another, due to the electromagnetic force transmitted across the wormhole. To an observer unaware of the wormhole on side A, this behaviour would look very strange, as it would appear that the negatively charged particle is experiencing a force from nowhere.

The authors propose that a similar method could be used to detect wormholes candidates. Rather than charged particles, however, the paper suggests using stars as wormhole detectors. One popular idea is that black holes themselves may harbour wormholes. Suppose we want to determine whether the black hole in the centre of our galaxy, Sagittarius A*, contains a wormhole. The paper suggests observing the orbits of stars around Sagittarius A* and looking for any unexplained deviations. Such deviations may suggest that the stars are experiencing gravitational attraction to massive objects, like other stars, on the other side of the wormhole.

Unfortunately, there is a catch. Unexpected deviations in the stars’ orbits may be caused be the black hole containing a wormhole, but this is not the only potential cause. There exist many other explanations that do not include wormholes which can explain the perturbation of a star’s orbit around a black hole, such as other stars which may be obscured from view. Consequently, although this paper proposes an exciting prospect, it is by no means a definitive detection method.

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