Breakthrough over exploding black holes

Last updated 12:01 22/03/2011

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New Zealand researchers have shed new light on the phenomenon which causes black holes to explode.

The research, which was led by Victoria University Professor of Mathematics Matt Visser, found the conditions which cause black holes to explode occurred more often than previously thought.

The phenomenon, called Hawking Radiation after its discoverer Stephen Hawking, causes black holes to leak energy and ultimately explode creating a blast "that would dwarf any nuclear weapon ever envisaged".

"We now believe there are a number of theoretically plausible objects in the universe that emit Hawking Radiation. It's more robust and more prevalent than scientists thought," Prof Visser said.

Prof Visser said the discovery unravelled some of universe's mysteries but was not a cause for concern.

"We'd have to be incredibly unlucky for a small black hole to wander into our solar system just before it was due to explode," he said.

Prof Visser's research team, which included colleagues in Spain and Italy, also provided new information about what happens just before a black hole disappears.

"Our work has helped us to probe that period more closely and we have produced calculations that work down to the last few millionths of a second."

While the theory of Hawking Radiation is widely accepted in the scientific community, no astronomer has observed a black hole exploding.

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