Human beings may have scientifically advanced on Earth, but when it comes to space, there are a lot of things that we still need to know. A recent discovery by a team of astronomers concerns a strange object that can exist around a pair of black holes. The intriguing discovery could help unravel the identity of dark matter and reveal the nature of space-time for the scientists.
The research – submitted in September this year by scientists from the University of Rome, University of Lisbon, and University of Paris – has found that the special particle can exist around a pair of black holes just like how an electron exists around a pair of hydrogen atoms. It is the first time when the existence of a so-called “gravitational molecule” has ever been explained.
For a better understanding, it should be remembered that in modern physics, the electron is represented as a field, a mathematical object that has a value for each point in space and time. Going back to your chemistry lessons, remember how an atom is basically a tiny nucleus surrounded by the electron field. That electron field responds to the presence of the nucleus, and allows the electron to appear only in definite areas.
The atmosphere of a black hole can also be compared to the structure of an atom. The centre of a black hole resembles that of the nucleus of an atom and the surrounding area is similar to the one that describes a subatomic particle.
The authors of the new study, Taishi Ikeda, Laura Bernard, Vitor Cardoso, and Miguel Zilhao found that specific types of fields, called scalar fields can exist around binary black holes. The research further found that they can form themselves into patterns that resemble how electron fields arrange themselves in molecules.
This research indicates that scientists might soon be able to detect dark matter with existing gravitational wave detectors. It is another step for the scientific community into understanding the enigmatic dark sector of the cosmos.