Black holes are giant furballs, say theoretical physicists

In 1997, cosmologists Stephen Hawking, Kip Thorne and John Preskill do a famous bet on whether the information that enters a black hole ceases to exist. Hawking and Thorne bet that information that enters a black hole is destroyed, while Preskill took the opposite view. Hawking’s research suggested that the particles have no effect. But his theory violated the laws of quantum mechanics and created a contradiction known as the information paradox. New research by physicists from the Department of Physics at Ohio State University attempts to resolve the debate over Hawking’s information paradox.

Guo et al. confirm answers to Stephen Hawking’s black hole information paradox. Image credit:

“What we discovered from string theory is that not all of the mass of a black hole is sucked towards the center,” said Professor Samir Mathur of Ohio State University, author main of a paper published in the Turkish Journal of Physics.

“The black hole tries to squeeze things up to a certain point, but then the particles stretch into these strings, and the strings start to stretch and expand and it becomes this ball of fur that expands to fill the entire black hole.”

“We found that string theory almost certainly holds the answer to Hawking’s paradox, as they originally believed.”

“We proved theorems to show that fuzzy ball theory remains the most likely solution for Hawking’s information paradox.”

In 2004, Professor Mathur and his colleagues theorized that black holes looked like very large, very messy balls of yarn – “hairballs” – that get bigger and messier as new objects are sucked in.

“The bigger the black hole, the more energy that enters it and the bigger the fuzzy ball becomes,” Professor Mathur said.

Physicists have discovered that string theory could be the solution to Hawking’s paradox. With this fuzzball structure, the hole radiates like any normal body, and there is no jigsaw.

“After the study and other work, a lot of people thought the problem was solved,” Prof Mathur said.

“But in fact, part of the string theory community itself thought they would be looking for a different solution to Hawking’s information paradox.”

“They were embarrassed that, in physical terms, the whole structure of the black hole had changed.”

Studies in recent years have attempted to reconcile Hawking’s findings with the old picture of the hole, where the black hole can be thought of as empty space with all its mass in the center.

One theory, the wormhole paradigm, has suggested that black holes could be one end of a bridge in the space-time continuum, meaning anything that enters a black hole could appear at the other end. of the bridge – the other end of the wormhole – in a different place in space and time.

For the wormhole picture to work, however, low-energy radiation would have to escape from the black hole at its edges.

The new study proved a theorem – the “small effective correction theorem” – to show that if this were to happen, black holes would not appear to radiate as they do.

The authors also looked at the physical properties of black holes, including changing quantum gravity topology, to determine if the wormhole paradigm would work.

“In each of the versions that have been proposed for the wormhole approach, we found that the physics were not consistent,” Professor Mathur said.

“The wormhole paradigm tries to argue that in some way you can always think of the black hole as actually empty with all the mass in the center.”

“And the theorems we are proving show that such a picture of the hole is not a possibility.”


Bin Guo et al. 2021. Contrasting Fuzzy Ball and Wormhole Paradigms for Black Holes. Turkish J Phys 45:281-365; doi: 10.3906/2111-13

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