15 February 2007

Atom smasher may give birth to 'Black Saturns'

Atom smasher may give birth to 'Black Saturns'
20:18 13 February 2007
NewScientist.com news service
Stephen Battersby
If we ever make black holes on Earth, they might be much stranger objects than the star-swallowing monsters known to exist in space. According to a new theory, any black hole that pops out of the Large Hadron Collider under construction in Switzerland might be surrounded by a black ring – forming a microscopic "black Saturn".

A black hole and a black ring can co-exist, in theory, as long as they are set spinning, say Henriette Elvang of MIT in Cambridge, US, and Pau Figueras of the University of Barcelona in Spain. "If you just had a ring, it would collapse. It's essential that it rotates to keep balanced," Elvang told New Scientist.

Just like the central black hole, the ring would be defined by its event horizon, a boundary beyond which nothing can escape the object's gravity. The ring could be thin like a rubber band or fat like a doughnut, and the rotation would flatten it – "like a doughnut that you have squashed," says Elvang. The spinning ring would also drag space-time around with it, making the central black hole spin as well.

The black Saturn can only exist in a space with four dimensions, rather than the three we inhabit. In 3D, a black ring is impossible, so there are no big black Saturns out there for astronomers to spot – but at a microscopic level, they might really exist."

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