Some black holes may actually be tangles in the fabric of space-time

An illustration of a black hole blowing material away with powerful jets (Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

Physicists have discovered a strange twist of space-time that can mimic black holes — until you get too close. Known as “topological solitons,” these theoretical kinks in the fabric of space-time could lurk all around the universe – and finding them could push forward our understanding of quantum physics, according to a new study published April 25 in the journal Physical Review D.

Black holes are perhaps the most frustrating object ever discovered in science. Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicts their existence, and astronomers know how they form: All it takes is for a massive star to collapse under its own weight. With no other force available to resist it, gravity just keeps pulling in until all the star’s material is compressed into an infinitely tiny point, known as a singularity. Surrounding that singularity is an event horizon, an invisible boundary that marks the edge of the black hole. Whatever crosses the event horizon can never get out.

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