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Study Demonstrates how Laws of Physics Break Down in a Black Hole

The conservation of charge, one of the most renowned laws of physics, has taken the brunt in a “startling” study by physicists.

Study Demonstrates how Laws of Physics Break Down in a Black Hole
An artist’s conception illustrates one of the most primitive supermassive black holes known (central black dot) at the core of a young, star-rich galaxy. Image Credit: © NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The study performed by Dr. Jonathan Gratus from Lancaster University and Dr. Paul Kinsler and Professor Martin McCall from Imperial College London illustrate how the laws of physics collapse in a black hole or “singularity.”

As the place where ‘physics breaks down’ in a black-hole, we have the sense that anything might happen at a singularity. Although perhaps most useful as a plot device for science fiction stories, should we as concerned physicists nevertheless check what conservation laws might no longer hold?

The physicists examined the behavior of charge conservation, the principle which states that the cumulative electric charge in a separate system never gets altered.

To their astonishment, they discovered that this “usually sacrosanct principle of standard electromagnetism” could be reversed.

By dropping an ‘axion-bomb’ into a temporary singularity, such as an evaporating black hole, we can create or destroy electrical charge.

Dr Paul Kinsler, Imperial College London

Axions are a postulated particle and a candidate for dark matter, even though their precise properties are still discussed, and they have not been detected so far.

This so-called axion-bomb is a mathematical construct that combines electromagnetic fields and axion particle fields in the correct way.

Martin McCall, Professor, Imperial College London

Dr. Jonathan Gratus stated, “The construction shrinks and disappears into the singularity taking electrical charge with it. And it is the combination of a temporary singularity and a newly proposed type of axion field that is crucial to its success.”

Although people often like to say that ‘physics breaks down’, here we show that although exotic phenomena might occur, what actually happens is nevertheless constrained by the still-working laws of physics around the singularity.

Dr Paul Kinsler, Imperial College London

Our conclusion appears to be at once startling and undeniable: global charge conservation cannot be guaranteed in the presence of axionic electromagnetic interaction,” the scientists concluded.

Journal Reference:

Gratus, J., et al. (2021) Temporary Singularities and Axions: An Analytic Solution that Challenges Charge Conservation. Annalen der Physik.


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