Black holes may be appearing as 3D ‘holograms’, scientists say

4 Jun 2020

Image: PatinyaS./

Researchers have theorised that what we see as black holes may be like a ‘hologram’ reproducing a vast, complex phenomenon in 3D.

Last year, the world got a glimpse of the first ever image of a black hole. But according to a pair of astronomers in Italy, we might be only seeing a ‘hologram’ representation of what’s actually going on.

Writing in a study to Physical Review X, they suggested that, like a hologram, all the information of a black hole is amassed in a 2D surface that is presented as a 3D image. These cosmic bodies, as affirmed by quantum theories, could be incredibly complex and concentrate an enormous amount of information inside themselves in two dimensions.

The concept aligns with Albert Einstein’s theory of general relatively, which describes black holes as 3D, simple, spherical and smooth, just like the image released last year.

The new theory by researchers Francesco Benini and Paolo Milan was developed from an idea almost 30 years old called the ‘holographic principle’.

 Potentially something ‘absolutely exceptional’

“This revolutionary and somewhat counterintuitive principle proposes that the behaviour of gravity in a given region of space can alternatively be described in terms of a different system, which lives only along the edge of that region and therefore in a one less dimension,” wrote Benini and Milan.

“More importantly, in this alternative description (called holographic), gravity does not appear explicitly. In other words, the holographic principle allows us to describe gravity using a language that does not contain gravity, thus avoiding friction with quantum mechanics.”

This theory was then applied to black holes, allowing for their “mysterious thermodynamic properties” to become more understandable.

“They have two dimensions, in which gravity disappears, but they reproduce an object in three dimensions,” the researchers said.

They expect that this is only the first step towards a deeper understanding of these cosmic bodies and what happens when quantum mechanics crosses with general relativity.

“In the near future, we may be able to test our theoretical predictions regarding quantum gravity, such as those made in this study, by observation,” they added. “And this, from a scientific point of view, would be something absolutely exceptional.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic