What if black holes aren’t black, but grey?…

I’ve never been aware of any call for consideration of theoretical physics in the realm of local government. But it was a topic that I  had a fringe interest in back in my youth, before I realized you have to have a mastery of calculus to actually do anything with it. Likewise, my past dabbling in computer technology marketing (calculus not required, thank you very much) brought me close to some folks at the online British IT rag The Register. That’s where I found this article about Professor Stephen Hawking‘s latest musing on the nature of black holes.

Professor Hawking has been grappling with the idea that black holes aren’t quite as static as we’d imagined them. The classic, suited-for-TV-and-movies model, was that black holes are a dark point of super-nothingness that once you get too close to, it’s the end of days (and time). That model is rebuffed by astronomical evidence. As we’ve found lately, black holes are surrounded by a giant electro-magnetic haze that’s generated by the quantum warping of matter. Such features are readily visible to the Hubble Space Telescope. (I wonder, what if a black hole is out in space, away from matter. Does it still have an EM cloud about it?)

Hawking’s latest argument is that black holes do not have an event horizon, which in the classic model was the gravitational line that once matter crosses, it’s forever trapped in the black hole’s clutches. According to The Register, Hawking thinks it’s an ” ‘apparent horizon’ made up of space-time that’s fluctuating too wildly to have a fixed boundary as such – leading to a grey hole, if you will, instead.” While the term “grey hole” loses a lot of the mystery and intrigue that the term “black hole” evokes, it’s good to have the model evolve.
Coming back to Earth, here’s Pink Floyd in 1968 playing “Astronomy Domine.” Enjoy.

Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.