- They’re out there….but where? There is much talk of Black Holes in space, but are they really there?
Black Holes are everywhere, and nowhere.
” A theory is only as good as its predictions…..”
Since the death of Einstein a popular new theory has arisen in cosmology which asserts that certain stars, if massive enough will eventually collapse into what are called singularities or Black Holes(BH). These singularities have a long mathematical history and are in fact a direct implication of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity which has to do with the effects of light’s speed limit and gravitational effects on time.
“When they reach the singularity, they are crushed to infinite density ….”
Late in the 19th century an experiment performed by two physicists, Albert Michelson and Edward Morley, verified experimentally that light had an absolute velocity beyond which it could not go. This was found to be 186,000 miles a second. They discovered that no matter which direction they shot a beam of light, no matter how they tinkered around it, the absolute speed-in a vacuum- would be 186,000 miles a second.
The verification by Michelson – Morley meant that light was indeed the fastest thing in the universe since this speed was theoretically established as the limiting speed of energy already.
Later, another physicist, by the name of Hendrik Lorentz realized that if this was in fact true it would have enormous implications on local time and would mean that our perception of time itself was subject to this limit. As we observed a clock from a moving vantage point, light speed limits would give us the impression of a slowing down in time, if we were going fast enough, and if close to the speed of light. Time, both perceptual, and real, was relative to how fast you were going.
A few years later, Albert Einstein would take this basic idea and math, and apply it more generally to the theory of physics and this would lead to the far reaching Special and General Relativity theories which in effect influenced just about every phenomenon in the Universe.
Points Become Curved Spaces
However, much of this theory was so complex and difficult to express that new and powerful mathematics were needed to express it, to make it legible to the human mind. Lorentz had used the mathematics of Gauss and Riemann who earlier had invented various -non Euclidean- ways of describing curved spaces, and curved surfaces which came to be known as differential geometry. This new Geometry was then applied to the description of light as it traveled through space and time. These mathematics allowed physicists to express the various changes in space and time directly rather than as a consequence of particle motions. However, as Einstein began to apply this to Gravitation and the effects of gravitation on light the mathematics began to take an ever more complex form, and ever greater consequence.
“Extending these solutions as far as possible reveals the hypothetical possibility of exiting the black hole into a different spacetime with the black hole acting as a wormhole “
The basic idea in any case was that space would be treated as a thing, a real thing, and not just as a mathematical construct. And instead of using forces between two objects as Newton was doing, physicists were now forced to describe the motion of objects from the mathematical viewpoint of pure mathematical space.
Points were, in some sense, no longer the old fashioned Euclidean points, but spaces subject to stretching, shear and stress. They were containers sort of.
Three D becomes Four D
One of the chief reasons for this is that we could no longer look at the world in three dimensions. We were now forced to look at the world with an eye towards the fourth dimension, therefore time. In four d, space starts to stretch, and extend into time. You are in a way, not standing still anymore, and even if you are, in three dimensions, with the addition of a time coordinate, you are now moving through the fourth dimension. As you can imagine, if you try to visualize it(not an easy thing to do) this involves a lot of stretching as even a point standing still in space was now subject to the dynamics of time, and being that time was now subject to relativity, it changed its inherent value the closer to light speed one could get. That is to say, time itself kind of stretched to longer and shorter duration-relatively speaking. A good way to visualize it is by watching slow motion photography where points of light tend to stretch into bright streaks.
So from this point on we would no longer talk of forces so much, as we would about the space that these forces created or allowed. Therefore the kind of space these forces projected in four d. This was the only way to deal with Gravity and the effects of Relativity as it concerned the speed limit of light and the variation in the measurement of time as one got closer to light speed; since talking about forces would make things impossibly hard to describe if we had to account for all this variation in Euclidean point coordinates.
We should make sure to clarify one thing in particular. The difference between special and general relativity is the difference between the effects on time stemming from traveling at speeds close to light speed vs the effects on time stemming from gravity. In essence, and to make a long story very short, gravity slows down light in some sense. This is the gist of General Relativity basically. Because it slows light, it in a sense slows time since all time concepts are tied to light and energy transfer.
Gravity Described as Shapes, not Forces
But there was a more pressing reason for not talking about forces directly, and this was because there was no real theory of gravity anyway. Even Einstein would find that such a theory, fully describing gravitation in terms of the other known forces was not a possibility at that time, or for that matter even in our time. All we could do is describe the deformity of gravitational forces on space itself as it stretched in relativistic time. So the best we could manage here was a metric, or a description of what gravity actually does to space in general, but not so much as to attempt to really describe what gravity is in-itself or how it interacts with matter minutely. We don’t know what gravity is, as astonishing as that may sound.
This is a difficult point to understand but it may help to realize that the forces of Electromagnetism had already been translated to wave form at the time of Einstein and Planck, and later they were even ordered into discreet particle theories which are in essence localized self propagating fields(at least that’s the theory) and so we could speak there of interactions of particles and waveforms and describe these phenomena in detail(however tedious this might become), but with Gravity no such essential waveforms were ever discovered. All we could say, if anything, is that particles under the influence of gravity, including light will take a certain path through spacetime, and as long as we can define spacetime geometrically we could get an idea of what these particles were going to do. However, this meant a subtle acceptance of the equivalence of mathematical space to real space. Unfortunately that was an awful big assumption. Yet, there was no real alternative because no theory of gravity existed which could related it to the electromagnetic forces of matter or energy. We could only describe what we saw happening.
We should again say here that that gravity in relativity theory seems as if to pull a space down towards a given mass. Its as if the space in which objects lie is itself being pulled down(or even stretched in extreme cases) towards a mass. There is here a subtle difference between saying a particle is pulled towards another particle and the space in which a particle exists is being pulled towards another particle. But this is the basic difference between Newtonian Physics and Relativistic physics. One talks of mass interactions, the other talks of spatial interactions in which all particles reside.
At the turn of the century, a giddy time of big thoughts and boundless optimism, it was seen as only a matter of time, if you can excuse the pun, that all this would be sorted out in a grand unified theory of both gravity and electromagnetism which would by implication give us a very good idea of what space was-essentially. It was never assumed by anyone, least of all Einstein, that space was only a figment of our imaginations. He was, like many others quite confident that space, like time, must be made of something, and soon he and others would know what that something was. Unfortunately it did not turn out that way. Neither he, nor anyone else has found out what exactly space is. Oh yes there are elegant formal theories of how this stuff should behave, but the only truth here is that absolutely no one knows what this stuff we call space, or spacetime really is. And that’s a real big problem for all involved, most especially for the Black Hole theorists who make the incredible presumption of its disappearance into what might be an infinitely small ball of pure energy!
Singularity becomes a Black Hole
At the time of General Relativity’s immediate rise to prominence, it was soon realized that if Einstein’s equations were thought through carefully one very odd phenomenon would have to be accepted and that would come to be the existence of something called a Schwarzschild radius.
A Schwarzchild radius, discovered by the German mathematician Karl Schwarzschild implied, mathematically, that anything that had mass, and was sufficiently small could actually bend spacetime so much that not even light could escape its grasp. That is if a mass became compressed enough, and small enough, spacetime, both mathematical and real, would be curved to such an extent that light itself would not be able to get away from the field. A mass small enough and dense enough could bend spacetime so much that we could not see it. But as this implied a kind of disappearance from the entire world as we know it, there was much more to it than just darkness.
It would be left to another Physicist, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar to go on and show that certain stars approximately three times larger than the Sun would all eventually collapse into these singularities. According to Chandrasekhar any star larger than 3.14 times the mass of the Sun was doomed to collapse into what would come to be known as a Black Hole, or a Singularity from which no known energy could escape.
Yet Einstein himself did not seem to accept the theory of Black Holes. He could not bring himself to accept such a theory feeling that something somewhere must be wrong, especially since some very real physical laws are known to be violated. Then again, at the time, he was still quite confident that a unified theory would at some point be discovered and all these little problems of Space and Time and Gravity would soon become clear and would eventually dispel this strange notion of a Black Hole in the Universe. So he remained quite unconvinced. But others soon came to the rescue of the theory and it stayed alive long enough to gather steam enough to blossom into our own age. Yet for the time that Einstein was alive, the theory was not widely accepted save but by a few.
But since Einstein’s death in 1955, and since his authority was no longer around to insist that these things could not exist(since they imply the end of the universe as we know it), there has been a runaway discourse on the subject. At first it was with great difficulty that you could find anyone who was willing to accept the existence of Black Holes, but soon this was replaced by entire hoards of Cosmologists who were certain that such phenomena must exist. In reality the Big Bang Theory itself requires that they do exist if we are to take it seriously and so this gives many people some real motive to insist that such things as Black Holes really do exist. But do they?
Below is a simple set of arguments that would preclude the formation of Black Holes in the real world. This is not to say that we are proving that they do not exist, rather we are only saying that there are very practical obstacles to the formation of such things in real space and time. Though to be sure, some have gone further and to the source of the problem to say that Black Holes violate some of the most important of physical laws, including the conservation of energy. But here we are only going to look at the most practical reasons why these things would in many instances not form in the real world.
“Can several angels be in the same place?”
Exploding Supernovas Create Black Holes
A Black Hole is supposed to form when a large star collapses so violently that nothing can stop that collapse-as far as we know. There are stars so massive that indeed if they were to collapse perfectly, that is in a perfect round ball, or if this collapsing ball were to be enhanced by a gigantically powerful explosion around it-as in a Supernova(SN), there would be no known nuclear force that could stop this collapse.
The assumption here is that a gigantic star explodes, but it does not do so at the core, but rather the explosion starts in its outer layers only- even as the core collapses. So here there is a recoil going in towards the center of the star for which there is no known resistance. The matter in the outer layers is thrown off into space, while the core layers-which are supposed to be exceedingly heavy- are to be compressed by the energy traveling towards the core. This core, which is in large stars so dense and heavy-or so we assume- cannot help but develop momentum towards the center that cannot be counter acted by any known force, and so it keeps collapsing forever. Even the enormous energy that is released as such a collapse occurs is supposed to be trapped by the gravitational pull of this collapsing core so that nothing, no radiation at all can get out. Not even light can get out. That’s why it’s called a Black Hole. Since we cannot really see it. In essence spacetime itself is so far bent and curved that even light cannot escape.
Although the British Physicist Steven Hawking did prove that some kinds of radiation would ultimately manage to escape after a very long time, still for us this phenomenon would be a virtual Black Hole since no light or substantial energy could escape enough for us to see it, or slow it down. This is critical to understand, Black Holes do not stop growing. They continue to collapse, and continue to devour other matter and energy, so they are, once formed, destined to continue to grow unabated, even infinitely, or as much as the entire universe will fit in them. And one Black Hole will devour another, eventually. Remember, Black Holes unlike other large bodies of mass will not release any of their energy and so all they do is grow. A star, no matter how massive will eject much of its mass and energy and so will have a limit as to how far it can grow. No such limit is posited for BH. So they can keep growing forever!
Now as we have said, we should also say all this is based on the idea that very large stars begin their explosions not at the core, but at the outer layers of the star. Yet before we go on, we should warn, that if we were actually wrong about where this Supernova reaction actually begins then most of this theory becomes impractical, even if theoretically possible. That is to say if an explosion were actually to begin in the core itself and not in the outer collapsing layers, well then we’d have a problem already. Since any reaction that begins at the core is going to completely shed the outside layers and no Black Hole would ever form!
In fact there is one type of Supernova that actually does begin this way, and is perhaps the most common way, but allowing for what is called a White Dwarf to gather matter from another star etc, does not really affect the overall health of the BH theory. But we must consider that if the actual dynamics of our theories are wrong, then a star could conceivably blow itself apart at the core and leave no Black Hole.
So even before we begin the easy stuff, there is already a warning that something may not be right after all even on hypothesis, and perhaps this is why Einstein himself did not very much like the idea.
The Theory May be Correct, but is it Probable, or Practical?
There are some very simple and powerful arguments against the practical existence of black holes. When we say practical it should be interpreted as reasons for why a Black Hole would not form in the real world even if it is possible theoretically. We are not here going to challenge the theory behind BH . What we do feel needs more emphasis is the practical difficulties in the formation of such objects in nature.
One practical problem is that BH seem to lead to a world we cannot really explain. The reality is that while Black Holes are predictable from the known physics of our day, they wind up taking us to a world that we know nothing about. Although we can say BH have formed, we cant really say what’s inside them or what that really means.
“Whether a Million of Angels may not fit upon a needle’s point?”
Quite often Black Holes are held to be bridges to another Universe of some kind. Amazingly even Einstein was willing to entertain such an idea for awhile. These would be the famous wormholes. But these are even more bizarre than Black Holes when you think about them. These have been proposed to be anything from a bridge to another part of the universe, a kind of warp drive like the one we see in star trek, to openings into an entirely different Universe. All of this conjecture and little more.
Large Stars tend to Disintegrate by Stages
One of the most powerful arguments against the formation of Black Holes is that a star that reaches the supposed unstable mass that is supposed to trigger a collapse powerful enough to form BH’s has almost always been observed to lob off huge quantities of itself before it becomes a supernova. The larger a star is, the more unstable it is, and so it is usually ejecting huge quantities of itself into space long before it collapses.
Most stars are going to become unstable, and throw off gigantic amounts of matter long before they go Nova, especially if we insist that it is the aging stars that actually Nova. As stars age, or rather as they expand they seem to toss much of themselves away. Yet again stars evolve in billions of years, we have a life span of about seventy so our observations are quite limited. Yet, it can be argued that if a large star lobs off huge quantities of itself what cause is there to think that it will ever gather a core large and heavy enough to turn into a SN or collapse into a BH?
Star must be a Sphere to become a Black Hole
Another very troubling aspect is that for the run of the mill BH to take place you would have to have a near perfectly symmetrical collapse. That is all sides of a star would have to collapse at the same time. If they didn’t then a star could easily blow out a side of its substance large enough to prevent the formation of a black hole.
Truth is, we cannot know for certain that such explosions do begin from perfectly circular collapses at all. It is today theorized that these stars form very heavy cores due to the fusion process which they use. The idea is that these cores after a time become so heavy that when finally the star stops radiating energy it will then begin collapsing from the outer layers on into this very heavy core. When this starts there is then no known force which would stop it. But this is the problem here. There is no known force, but we could very well have an unknown cause.
We must remember that by implication we are saying that all matter in this BH will by Einstein’s equation e=mc2 turn into energy. But because the force of gravity and the “Curvature” of space is so great there is no pathway for that energy to leak out. If it did of course, then there would be no argument for BH’s in the first place.
So much of this depends on the idea that in fact energy will maintain its gravitational pull on itself. Einstein indeed thought it would, or at least thought that this energy would bend spacetime and its on this idea that we have the notion of BH’s. That is even if the entire star were to turn to energy it would still bend spacetime to such an extent that nothing could escape. But do we really know that? Do we know that gravitational force is actually maintained when all matter is turned to energy?
Do we know for a fact that the gravitational constant G will remain stable at those pressures? If the constant G actually decreases as this energy is compacted to infinite levels, then we might in fact have the grounds to abandon this theory altogether since the gravitational pull of matter may in fact weaken after a certain energy level is reached. The blunt reality is that without knowing exactly what gravity is we cannot know its limitations, nor the full spectrum of its variations.
Ultimate Compression = Pure Energy?
Yet another problem to be seen is that as the mass is compressed to enormous levels the energy would probably reach ultimate levels as well. This almost certainly means that this mass is no longer sitting in one place, its probably oscillating wildly. But oscillations, density differences, and distributions could all serve to distort the inherent gravitational field. Truth is we dont know. This is far beyond anything we have ever experienced, or for that matter even theorized about. Could the energy inside a BH distribute itself in such a way as to release much of the stored energy inside it? Is there no such possibility? For if there is, eventually this possibility will arise! One thing is evident even to a child, gravitational contraction effects are nearly the exact opposite of energetic effects. When matter becomes too energetic it seems to fly apart rather than contract. Are we all that certain that this is not an inherent fundamental property?
We will not here get into the problems of spacetime as a notion, but we will say here that in reality our concepts of spacetime are little more than mathematical constructs. They are necessary for Einstein to express his theory as a differential manifold, but to give this theory reality to the extent that it would not allow infinitely compressed energy to escape is taking these mathematical constructs to their absolute limits-and beyond. The blunt reality is that we know virtually nothing about the essence of spacetime. We know nothing about how it really behaves as a thing by itself, yet we are saying that it will be so distorted that it cannot allow near infinite amounts of energy to escape!
Along these lines we might add that no one can tell us what a BH really is as a thing by itself. What’s inside this BH? What sort of spacetime, or energy resides within it? We are merely told that well we can’t know. This is much like saying that this is a bridge to another universe, and indeed this has been postulated, but can grounds ever seriously be found to justify this idea? In the end it all comes down to our understanding of spacetime, and yet the most profound truth is that in fact, other than mathematical speculations, and formalism we really have not a single clue. In essence we are told that inside a BH time stops as far as we can tell. That is nothing happens! Yet quite frankly this looks like a dilemma than a positive assertion of some truth. Unfortunately this is much like saying that once you die you’ll experience a Birthday party that will never end. Its fine for people of faith to have faith. But Cosmology is not about faith.
So we must here understand that the formation of BH’s depends much on our understanding of both Gravity and Spacetime itself as things in themselves, to borrow a phrase from the philosopher Emanuel Kant; but in reality we have no workable theory of what either Gravity is, or Spacetime! In reality, although Relativity theory does generalize Newtonian mechanics, the truth is that Newton’s understanding of Gravity is still quite valid. Rather, the mathematics required for Relativistic Mechanics forced the reclassification of the idea of what Space is and unfortunately much of that mathematical necessity was translated into worldly existence, but this is not so. The reality is that outside of forces interacting with real particles, or energy we have no conception of spacetime other than as a mathematical construct. But no one should equate mathematical constructs with Nature. This could lead to many errors in judgment and the necessity for a tremendous leap of faith that our physics are still valid at all.
Yet another very difficult problem to overcome is that most stars are rotating, some at absolutely astonishing speeds. Not only that but any star that collapses, especially a large star would have to conserve angular momentum and this would force it to spin at tremendous speeds. However, the faster a star spins the less likely it is for it to collapse into a black hole spinning fast enough to overcome the energy flash that would result. It is also true that some stars observed, even young stars like the star Regulus, often rotate at enormous speeds for which we have no explanations.
The original formulation of the Black Hole theory by Chandrasekhar insisted that a body not be rotating. If on the other hand it were rotating then things get very complicated from that point on. Unless we are to believe that angular momentum is not conserved by BH’s, we would have to at some point in time start thinking about infinitely fast spin as far as angular velocity were concerned! We are saying therefore that a star would eventually become a particle of some kind. A particle that is, however, for all its dynamism undetectable.
But aside from the fact that a BH forming from a spinning object would imply an infinitely fast angular velocity at some point in time in its evolution-this assuming time exists in the world of BH’s at all, we have the very serious problem that anything that spins is going to eventually become a disk. So at some point in time we will be talking about a Black Hole disk that will spin at infinite angular velocities! But of course this disk will become infinitely small as well. It may even begin to oscillate as the necessary formal distortions cause occasional imbalances in gravitational equilibrium, and once such an oscillation began it would never stop and also increase to infinity. In due time, BH time that is, the structure would have to evolve to a ring of sorts spinning infinitely fast.
The reality of this particle- disk is that as it spins ever faster it would of course become less stable at the center. What that would mean is anyone’s guess at that point, we cant know and all that’s said here is nothing but wild speculation, and that’s the meaning here. But what is important is to understand that there are some very serious practical obstacles here to anything becoming a BH if the original star has spin. We will wind up having to explain what a known phenomenon is supposed to do in an unknown world.
If it’s not a Sphere then it’s probably not going to be a Black Hole either.
Moreover, as we look more closely at these highly unstable stars that are the best candidates for such collapses , like the famous supergiant Betelguese, we see that this thing is quite irregular. It is not a perfect spheroid. The less of a spheroid it is, the far less likely that it is going to have enough inertia concentrated at the middle which is what would allow it to develop the gravitational force needed to create a Black Hole. If a BH were to develop any imbalances in its early formative stages, it would begin to wobble at enormous speeds and each time lobbing off gigantic parts of itself probably deep enough into the core to leave very little mass at the core. The other famous supernova candidate that we know of, Eta Carinae, has actually two giant lobes at its side which would indicate that it probably exploded in some way already. Yet it’s a giant star and extremely unstable and is a perfect candidate for going Supernova, according to present theories.
At this point we should point out that as a star collapses it will begin to spin at tremendous speeds, but will also blow off many layers. If enough layers are blown off over may cycles, what is the likelihood that there will be enough material left to form even a theoretical black hole? As a star goes through explosive phases it will rid itself of much mater, perhaps that is what we are seeing with Betelguese and Eta Carinae as we see material ejected violently during what are probably many cycles of such turbulence.
But even if a star that is extremely massive and had the intact core and were to remain stable enough to collapse, it would soon develop into a spinning disk which would spin at tremendous speeds possibly even great enough to preclude the possibility of a Black Hole altogether as more and more energy were placed in its angular velocity. Although pure speed might remain within real bounds since the spin of an object will conserve tangential speed, the fact is that this curvature would take away from the strength and imminence of the collapse.
Here is another tid bit of disagreement. We have seen what we believe to be the remnants of dying stars in the galaxy and we have named these as “Planetary Nebulae”. The reason why they are named as planetary is because at first we did not know what caused them and they looked like planets orbiting a faint star in the middle. Later as theories took off in the direction of the Main Sequence, the present name for the theory of stellar evolution, we became aware of the possibility that these objects are actually the remnants of dying stars.
After studying these things for awhile we realized a few interesting facts about them. One of which is that almost always there is a small white star in the middle, what we call a white dwarf, which we assume to be what is left of the old star. These are usually very small, Earth sized actually. Many theories have sprung up about them and much debate and calculus has been directed at these little guys.
However, far less debate has been directed at the other remnants of these planetary nebulae, therefore the disks. The strange thing about these disks is that they are not what would be expected from the death process of a star. Rather they are extremely complex structures that are thrown out into space with all kinds of structures and sub-structures that are so far unexplained. But the point is that we do not have a great idea of wherefore these things are grown. This brings into great doubt our theories of both stellar death, and BH which are also supposed to be a form of stellar death. We are saying therefore, if we can’t explain the Nebulous disks around dying stars, how then should we have any faith in the far more ornate BH theory of dying stars?
Much of the expectation for Black Holes began with the visual discovery of the Neutron Star. After what appeared to be Supernova explosions a very small dense star was left at the core of these explosions. This Neutron star tends apparently to be very small, heavy and exceedingly dense, often theorized to have an exceptionally powerful gravitational field for its size. Sometimes they even emit radio signals like the news media and spin with extreme rapidity, and when this is the case they are called Pulsars. The idea is that these stars must be made of Neutrons because these are the only type of particles “known” that could possibly explain such a dense star and explain an electrically neutral surface. The problem with that is that we have absolutely no idea what is left at the core of such explosions in reality. We have absolutely no way of knowing whether such things are made of Neutrons, or pea soup when we consider how far away these things really are, and that we are observing only a few pixels of their existence even with the best of our telescopes.
Most of all this theory is based on observations of very cold matter! Our theories of this kind of matter is based mostly on the observation of how matter behaves at absolute zero temperatures. This is ironic, on the surface at least, since what we would be looking at in a neutron star, or a white dwarf would be created in unimaginable levels of heat and radiation. Yet, most of what we would consider left at the end of such unthinkable events is derived from observing things at very cold near zero temperatures. At those temperatures near absolute Zero matter seems to lose much of it hierarchical particle structure. It is then what is called degenerate matter where atoms are turned into free roaming particles devoid of their normal relationships with each other, or something akin to the “Fermi Sea” named after Enrico Fermi, the physicist responsible for the practical development of the Atom Bomb who first theorized about what might happen if matter were devoid of all heat.
Yet this is a strange theoretical foundation to use as the basis for understanding the cores of degenerate stars left over in these unimaginably violent explosions. Somehow the reasoning goes, this is what we should expect at the end of a giant star’s life. What is more troubling is that observations have not really confirmed the theories here. For example white dwarfs, another Supernova left over, have not conformed to the theory that they would be made of Carbon and Oxygen which is the expected result of such massive explosions to begin with. Rather most have atmospheres with the usual Hydrogen, Helium mixture that we see just about everywhere else. They also tend to be much hotter than cold matter “Fermi Seas” would require. After digging up thousands of these, they found one or two that seem to be cool enough to pose as candidates for the theories, but these are still at 4,000 degrees! The majority of these Supernova leftovers are not conforming to general theories at all. One explanation is that the Universe is just not old enough to catch up to the theories yet; this being a popular contention that we find in many other areas of Cosmology and Physics at present.
Moreover we really have very little to tell us how small these things really are, or how dense. Although the going theory is that they are made of Neutrons on the surface it is really a wild guess at best and little is known or even dared beyond that. For example few would claim to know what exactly a Neutron star is just below the surface. We really do not have a great idea of what the Sun is made of just below the surface – worse yet, the contents of Earth’s core itself are very much in question even though we stand on this planet all our lives. In the case of the Neutron star, it would be very difficult to know what lies under the strangest piece of matter ever encountered in the universe when it is also thousands of light years away. For all we know, when observing what we like to call a Neutron star, we may just as well be looking at one giant particle of some kind or possibly even a new form of matter or element. These things are so far away it is hardly in our power to have any real idea of what it is they are. Even more important is that the Universe is so large, so ancient, and so complex that we may not have even a decent idea of its evolutionary nature. Although the Big Bang theory is popular today, and for all we know could be true, there are an infinite number of other pathways to Galactic evolution that we probably do not know. True there is no crime in speculation but speculation should always remain as that and nothing more. But wherever money and funding are involved there will always be some pressure to make a hypothesis look more like a theory and a theory more like fact.
Matter and Energy
Perhaps the ultimate problem which has not been addressed no matter what is claimed, is that if indeed a BH continues to collapse, why should it stop? If not, matter will be compressed to such a level that it will eventually be turned to pure energy, or basically into photons. But photons have no mass. Therefore they should have no gravitational attraction.
At some point in the compression the gravitational field will weaken. The assumption seems to be that BH will remain at peak gravitational constant G while they collapse, but this seems a rather iffy proposition. As matter is converted to energy, mass is lost! Energy simply does not have the same curving properties of space as matter does!
Why should we be coy here? When matter is put closely together gravitation does in a pure sense weaken! That is to say things are no longer pulling together, they are pushing apart! Oh yes but the physicist will be quick to say that gravitation does not weaken, its only that the energy levels of particles increases due to heating and compression and that’s why things push apart. But the question is what is gravitation? The answer will be an attractive force, but the reply is just as simple, the attractive force is now weakening and being pushed apart. The gist is that if we don’t know what gravitation is, we cannot simply say well it’s still there even if things are flying apart. As far as we really know gravitation is nothing more than the tendency of matter to pull together. But when matter is pulled together beyond a certain point, it pushes apart! Since we have no real understanding of the relationship between those forces pulling together and those pushing apart we cannot really know why one force weakens and the other strengthens.
For as long as we do not have a unified field theory we cannot expect to explain away the difference between those forces that pull together and those that push apart! Simple as that. To say that gravitation will continue to compress matter even while the core is being turned to pure energy is not based on known facts.
One thing is quite true, there are now and have been a number of alternative theories to the evolution and state of the Universe than just the Big Bang theory, which by the way is heavily dependent on the BH theory. For all we can tell in earnest, the Universe may still be evolving at a fundamental level and that what we have so far supposed is only a speck of its total existence.
The math behind the Black Hole theories is sound to be sure. But then a mathematician, like a programmer can come up with a fantastic world of goblins and unicorns fighting for good or evil, if he or she is allowed to make the required assumptions, or postulates. From what we know here on Earth, Black Holes may develop, at least there is some mathematical theory that says they might, but there is much that can stop their development in the real world. And once they do develop, all our laws of physics seem to disappear inside them.
Lack of Observational Evidence
The most damning evidence against Black Holes frankly is observational. For a long time now many theories have come out predicting that stars more than three times larger than the Sun, or thereabout, would of necessity develop into Black Holes(Chandrasekhar and Oppenheimer.) Yet when we observe the Universe we don’t see them even though there are billions of stars that are large enough to qualify. The theory of star formation and evolution would actually imply that such stars have been quite numerous in the past since the larger a star the quicker it dies and so there would have been many stars out there that would fit the bill; yet when we look we see no great evidence of black holes around. Even if we could not see them, we would at least come to see their effects. Yet no such visual evidence has been found. There are no stars rotating around empty space for example, as would be expected if Black Holes actually existed. We don’t see stars spewing out their surfaces into dark vortices as one would expect if Black Holes were as numerous as some insist. There is very little evidence of any star formed BH anywhere, and considering the present theory we would expect to see entire populations of such objects left around the galaxy. But we don’t.
In fact the only Black Holes that are claimed to exist at the center of galaxies. And there we hear more and more tales about how each galactic center must have giant Super Massive Black Hole because the stars around these galaxies are travelling so fast that no other explanation can explain it.
The problem here too, is that we have absolutely no idea what may lie at the center of a galaxy. For one thing our gravitational theories have clearly failed to explain many simpler aspects of galactic rotation and now to assume that we have a knowledge of the most complex part, a galaxy’s core, is a stretch at best. That stars are traveling very fast around galaxies is-probably- true. But that this is due to super massive black holes, which we cannot observe directly is not a very convincing argument.
There are still more questions about this theory which we will not get into in this post, but to be sure, the theory of Black Holes stretches the extent of our knowledge. The reality is that we really do not have a good theory as to what gravity really is, nor do we have any good theory as to what space itself is. Making complex assumptions about one of the most exotic forms that matter, gravity and spacetime can ever take seems to require a lot more caution than we are seeing today. To say that these things are ubiquitous and are present in every galaxy observed, including our own, is again not quite justified.
For now, we will leave it at this simpler stage and say that given even these simple arguments above, given now the notion of dark energy, simply pointing it out as an obvious obstacle, given the lack of observed phenomena such as these, given the very unlikely chain of events that would be needed to form such objects, perhaps it’s time that cosmologists and astronomers eased up on this notion of Black Holes being everywhere and devouring the entire universe. Yes there are certain conditions where you might, we emphasize might have a case for the formation of such strange objects, but even as Hawking proved, a true Black Hole is a very difficult and a highly improbable object. Sooner or later energy would escape. Maybe it’s time we stop making these gigantic claims when we are not all that certain that these claims are fact.
Speculation is fine, but with that ought to go extreme caution. Maybe what we are really saying is we need a change of attitude in present day science, and we should not make gigantic claims when even Einstein would often be heard saying “all it takes is one refute” to kill the best of theories!
We have so far seen popular cosmology make all kinds of assumptions and then corrections to account for fallacies when observed. But how long can that go on before trust in the science is lost completely? It is true that we live in a time where such exotic ideas are not critically analyzed. We live in a popular, multi-media culture which is conducive to big bright, flashy ideas, whether they are valid or not as long as they gain the interest of the viewers, but It is doubtful that such ideas would have gotten very far in the nineteen thirties less so before the turn of last century where standards for scientific claims were quite strict, and loose assertion was cut to the quick. But still, if we continually make room for a conclusion that continues to introduce discrepancies into the science there will come a time when a general refutation will arise. Then much of what we do know will come under highly critical scrutiny and faith in the science will be lost for a very long time. This would be especially true of cosmology which frankly has very little practical use and thus would provide little motive for funding.
To make a point and say “well its possible” is a much different attitude than one that asserts the absolute existence of that point. To say “Black Holes may exist somewhere out there, maybe even in galactic cores” is one thing, but to say “every galactic core has a Black Hole in its center” is a whole new level of assertion. The problem is attitude more than anything else.
To propose a new idea is always welcomed, no matter how strange the idea may be. That’s how humanity has progressed all these centuries. But determining whether this idea is true or not should never be left to polemics, or media, or popular opinion. That’s not science.
Cosmology is a science of hope
If anything, cosmology provides a kind of hope for people. It shows us all how truly vast the Universe is, and how beautiful it truly is. It even provides us with a story of how it all came to be. But we should be careful to respect that beauty, especially when we are so small by comparison. To assert the absolute existence of things that are at best only possible under extremely rare conditions is to undermine our respect for Nature and Natural Science, Cosmology being at the highest peak of beauty in the spirit of science. For this we have to be cautious about what we assert as being true in Cosmology, otherwise we may undermine all of science and the basic faith that people have in it.