How The Echoes In Gravitational Waves Could Destroy The Hundred-Year Legacy Of The General Theory Of Relativity

First Posted: Dec 15, 2016 03:52 AM EST

Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity has been proven when gravitational waves were detected in three separate black hole merging events. However, after analyzing the data, a group of scientists claims that there are echoes of the gravitational waves. These echoes, if proven they exist, could very well destroy the hundred-year legacy of the General Theory of Relativity.

According to Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, anything that crosses a black hole's event horizon, or its edges, could not escape and would leave nothing behind. However, this concept is contested by other scientists, because according to quantum mechanics, a matter swallowed up by a black hole should actually leave behind a trace of itself on the outside.

One of the biggest problems in physics is how to successful find an explanation that will satisfy both the General Theory of Relativity with that of quantum mechanics. This scientific dilemma is called the black hole information paradox, according to

Many scientists have tried to explain this dilemma with some prescribing to the firewall hypothesis. The firewall hypothesis claims that there is a high-energy firewall on the back hole's event horizon that will burn everything up.

Another one suggested by Stephen Hawking is how a black hole's event horizon has fuzzy hair or low-energy quantum excitations that contain traces of information of all the things that are swallowed up by the black hole.

Now using the data collected by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) has a group of scientists claiming that there are echoes detected from the gravitational waves. These echoes, if proven to exist, would mean that everything that goes through the black hole does leave traces behind. It will satisfy the concept of quantum mechanics but at the cost of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

According to the group of scientists headed by Jahed Abedi at Sharif University of Technology, Iran, there is still a huge possibility, one in 270 chance, that the echoes are just background noise. Another obstacle that the team is facing is the fact that they only have a tiny sample size (from the three separate black hole merging events), and so far, their evidence falls below the crucial five-sigma error margin.

The scientists' claim suggests that the fuzzy hair around the black hole acts like a hall of mirrors, where the traces of the things that are swallowed up or goes through the black hole are bounced around. Some of these traces escape the hall of mirrors, thus the echoes in the gravitational waves.

However, further observations are still needed to prove their claims. "The good thing is that new LIGO data with improved sensitivity will be coming in, so we should be able to confirm this or rule this out within the next two years," said Niayesh Afshordi in Nature.

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