Stephen Hawking’s Theory on Black Hole Surface Area Was Right

British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is known for his predictions about black holes. Hawking, for example, is famous for theorizing the idea that black holes actually emit light very gradually over time; a phenomenon that physicists refer to as Hawking radiation. Now, a new gravitational wave analysis provides strong evidence to support another of Hawking's predictions about the black hole. One that has to do with its ability to preserve its entire surface in the event of a collision.
A visualization of two black holes that merge and then emit waves in the structure of spacetime.
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Science News reported on the new analysis that a team of astrophysicists recently outlined in an article published in Physical Review Letters. The team examined the data that the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) discovered in 2015 from a pair of extremely distant merging black holes to find corroborative evidence for the Hawking Area Theorem.
The theorem, derived from general relativity, describes changes in black holes after matter has entered them. In essence, as the mass of a black hole increases, it should also increase in surface area. But if newly absorbed matter also increases the spin of the black hole, this should cancel out the increase in surface area. The theorem of area says, however, that the increase in surface due to additional mass always outweighs the decrease in surface. (This would be required for information retention.)
In the case of the LIGO data, the astrophysicists examined two merging black holes that sent gravitational waves, or waves in the fabric of spacetime - which NASA visualized in the unrelated video above - across the universe. The astrophysicists divided the data into two segments; one for the respective surface of the two black holes before the merger and one for the surface of the new, singular black hole after the merger. And while studying the data, it turned out that the black hole actually had a larger surface area after the merger. One that was actually larger than that of the two previously separated black holes combined.
These results are "an exciting indication that black hole areas are fundamental and important," astrophysicist Will Farr, a co-author of the study from Stony Brook University in New York, told Science News. MIT astrophysicist Maximiliano Isi, another co-author on the study, added that these results are an example of the world in general being explained with relatively flawlessness. Although everything that happens in a growing black hole is still a complete mystery.
A visualization of two black holes that merge and then emit waves in the structure of spacetime.
Stephen Hawking's Theory on Black Hole Surface Area Was Right post first appeared on Nerdist.
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Stephen Hawking
British theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author (1942-2018)

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