Wormholes are hypothetical shortcuts through space and time that could allow us to travel across vast distances in the universe. However, they are still only theoretical and have not been observed directly.
One of the challenges is that they could look very similar to black holes, which are massive objects that swallow everything around them, including light.
But a team of scientists from the University of Sofia in Bulgaria has proposed a new way to tell the difference between black holes and wormholes, using a computer model that simulates the radiation emitted by both objects.
Their study, published in the journal Physical Review D, suggests that we could measure the polarization of light coming out of black holes to see if they are actually wormholes.
Polarization is a property of light that describes the orientation of its electric field. Light can be polarized in different ways, depending on how it interacts with matter. For example, when light reflects off a surface, it becomes partially polarized. Polarization can also be affected by gravity, which can bend and twist light rays.
The researchers used their computer model to calculate how much polarization would change as light passes through the throat of a wormhole, which is the narrowest part of the tunnel that connects two regions of space. They compared this with the polarization change caused by a black hole, which has a point of no return called the event horizon.
They found that the difference in polarization between a black hole and a wormhole would be very small, less than four percent. This means that we would need a very precise instrument to detect it. However, they also found that the polarization change would depend on the size and shape of the wormhole, which could vary widely.
“If you were nearby, you would find out too late,” said Petya Nedkova, the lead author of the study and a physicist at Sofia University, to New Scientist. “But if you observe from far away and you have an idea about what type of object you are looking for, you might be able to distinguish between black holes and wormholes.”
The study is based on some assumptions about the nature and structure of wormholes, which are still speculative. For instance, it assumes that wormholes are stable and do not collapse under their own gravity. It also assumes that wormholes do not have any exotic matter or negative energy inside them, which some theories suggest could be necessary to keep them open.
Nevertheless, the study is an interesting contribution to the search for wormholes, which could have profound implications for our understanding of physics and cosmology.
Wormholes could potentially allow us to test some of the predictions of general relativity, such as time dilation and gravitational lensing. They could also open up new possibilities for exploration and communication across the universe.
However, before we can use wormholes for any practical purpose, we need to find them first. And that is not an easy task, as they could be very rare and elusive. The new method proposed by the Bulgarian team could be one way to narrow down the search and get closer to discovering these mysterious phenomena.