Gamma-ray bursts ejected from black holes ‘reverse time’, claims sensational new study | Science | News

The report, published in the latest edition of the Astrophysical Journal, argues that the bursts – which shine more brightly than a million trillion times the output of our own sun – contain what are referred to as time-reversed light signatures – meaning, in effect, that they actually travel backwards in time.

Researchers admit they have no idea what is causing this process.

The study’s lead author, Jon Hakkila, an astrophysicist and associate dean of the Graduate School at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, said: “Gamma-ray bursts were the most luminous sources know in nature, producing more energy than untying else which emits light.

He explained that gamma-ray bursts are ejected when two neutron stars collide, forming a black hole in the process.

In addition, supernovas produce longer gamma-ray bursts as the dying stars collapse into black holes.

Mr Hakkila said in each case most of their energy comes in the form of pulses, or blips.

When he excluded the main pulse from the data he was studying, originally detected by NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory in the 1990s, he discovered that “the blip actually had some little side blips.”

Each pulse was found to have three phases during which light levels rose and fell a few times.

Further examination revealed that the structure of these peaks looked like reflections in a mirror.

Mr Hakkila said: “They all have this signature of brightness that fluctuates and then it turns around and goes backwards in time.

“A gamma-ray burst represents the formation of a black hole, and there’s all sorts of very odd things that happen with both space and time and the relationship between space and time in the vicinity of a black hole.”

Black holes are generally regarded as one of the most baffling and mysterious phenomena in the universe.

The expression was first used in print by science journalist Ann Ewing in an article published in 1964.

NASA describes a black hole as a huge amount of matter packed into a tiny area, creating a gravitational field so strong that nothing, not even light, or perhaps even time, can escape.

It estimates that dozens may exist within our own Milky Way galaxy.

Professor Stephen Hawking has suggested that black holes might be passages to another universe, raising the possibility that humans could use them to visit alternative dimensions.

In his lecture Into a Black Hole, he explained: “I remember going to the premier of a Walt Disney film, The Black Hole, in the 1970s.

“It was about a spaceship, that was sent to investigate a black hole that had been discovered.

“It wasn’t a very good film, but it had an interesting ending. After orbiting the black hole, one of the scientists decides, the only way to find out what is going on, is to go inside. So he gets into a space probe, and dives into the black hole.

“After a screen writer’s depiction of Hell, he emerges into a new universe.”

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