Schrodinger’s black hole? Strange Quantum Properties Revealed

black holes have quantum properties unique and strange, such as the ability to have multiple masses at once, according to a new study recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters by researchers at the University of Queensland.

“Until now, we haven’t really investigated whether black holes exhibit some of the weird and wonderful behaviors of quantum physics,” says PhD student Joshua Foo, who led the team of theoretical physicists.

To examine the possible quantum properties of black holes, the researchers ran simulations of what would happen if a particle were placed outside a black hole with superimposed mass.

Like the black holes they are mostly known for their incredible mass, the researchers focused on that property.

What is overlap?

Quantum-scale particles can exist in multiple states at the same time, a phenomenon known as superposition. In a similar phenomenon, the team found that the simulated black hole could have multiple masses simultaneously.

The most famous reference to the superposition phenomenon is Schrodinger’s cat, which is simultaneously alive and dead. (Although Schrodinger used the cat to express what he considered to be the absurdity of quantum theory)

This is the first image of Sagittarius A* (or Sgr A* for short), the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. It was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an array that linked radio observatories from around the planet to form a single virtual “Earth-sized” telescope. (Credit: EHT Collaboration/National Science Foundation/Handout via REUTERS)

Another example is the double-slit experiment, which showed that particles can act as both a particle and a wave at the same time. The experiment consists of a screen with a barrier with two slits placed in front of it.

Although a light projected onto the barrier would be expected to result in two lines of light on the screen behind it that line up with the slits, this is not the case. Instead, the light acts like a wave, and the barrier turns it into two separate waves that interfere with each other, leaving multiple areas of light with gaps between them.

Dr. Magdalena Zych, co-supervisor of the research, noted that the results supported the theories of American-Israeli theoretical physicist Jacob Bekenstein.

Bekenstein postulated that black holes can only have masses of certain values ‚Äč‚Äčthat fall within certain bands or ratios, similar to the energy levels of an atom.

“Our modeling showed that these overlapping masses were, in fact, in certain bands or ratios, just as Bekenstein predicted,” Zych said. “We didn’t assume any such pattern going in, so finding this evidence was quite surprising.”

“The universe reveals to us that it is always more strange, mysterious and fascinating than most of us could have imagined,” added Zych.