Mini Black Holes
Episode #2 of the course “Strangest Things in Space”
Mini black holes, also called micro black holes or quantum mechanical black holes, are hypothetical phenomena first proposed by the famed physicist Stephen Hawking in the 1970s. The smaller the mass of a black hole, the greater its power. This intense increase in power leads to a final, gigantic flash of energy in which the black hole evaporates.
What Hawking also discovered was that these mini black holes aren’t black at all. Rather, any black hole with a mass less than one hundredth of the mass of the earth’s moon will glow in the dark. As black holes get smaller still, they burn even hotter and emit more radiation in the form of UV radiation, X-rays, and gamma radiation.
To further substantiate the existence of mini black holes, physicists are hoping to detect this “Hawking radiation,” as it’s called. If in our universe’s fiery youth, they say, mini black holes had formed, there stands a good chance that some of them might now have reached that final stage—a massive eruption leading to evaporation. None of these highly-energetic evaporations have been detected as of yet.
Some physicists have proposed alternative theories to the end-state of black holes, however. If their hypotheses are correct and Hawking’s are incorrect, they could explain why we have not yet detected Hawking radiation. These theories state that the final fate of a black hole may actually be as a stable object, rather than an unstable explosion. These proposed stable-state, post-evaporation black holes are known as WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles). This theory could help to explain dark matter.
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