Black Holes in a Bathtub

Silke Weinfurtner alongside the apparatus she and her students use to simulate black hole physics.

Physicist Silke Weinfurtner studies fluids, not for themselves, but for what they can teach us about black holes, cosmic inflation, and quantum gravity. Black holes are notoriously difficult to study directly, but, mathematically speaking, it’s possible to set up a fluid system that behaves in the same way a black hole does. The result is a bathtub-like arrangement with a central vortex, seen above. And within this “bathtub,” Weinfurtner and her colleagues can directly measure sound waves equivalent to Hawking radiation, the theoretical means by which black holes emit heat. Learn more about these analogue gravity experiments in her interview over at Quanta Magazine. (Image credit: P. Ammon; via Quanta Magazine; submitted by clogwog)

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