Professor Stephen Hawking, who died age 76 in March this year, spent his last years studying the so-called black hole “information paradox”.
A close friend and colleague of the late physicist said Professor Hawking spent a good part of the last 40 years trying to crack the black hole conundrum.
The physicist’s work was finally completed just days before his death, aided by his colleagues at Cambridge and Harvard Universities.
Malcolm Perry, a professor of theoretical physics at Cambridge, co-authored the paper titled Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair.
In the paper, Professor Hawking cracked the mysteries of a black hole paradox, which can be traced back to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.
The information paradox purports black holes have a temperature, which means they will eventually lose enough heat to disappear.
But under the laws of quantum mechanics, information is never lost, which appears to contradict the black hole model.
So what exactly happens to all the planets, moons and asteroids lost inside of black holes?
Professor Hawking and his associates have proposed objects sucked into a black hole will have their entropy changed – a law dictating the gradual decline or disorder of an object the hotter it is.
Professor Perry told the Guardian: “The difficulty is that if you throw something into a black hole it looks like it disappears.
“How could the information in that object ever be recovered if the black hole then disappears itself?”
The physicists now think the objects’ information will linger around the edges of a black hole, in so-called “soft hair”.
All of this information will eventually be released by the black hole once it eventually evaporates.
Professor Perry said the study’s findings put an “enormous smile” on Professor Hawking’s face.
But there are still many unanswered questions about the proposed theory, such as how is the information stored in soft hair or how it leaves an evaporating black hole.
Professor Perry said: “If I throw something in, is all of the information about what it is stored on the black hole’s horizon?
“If it’s only half of it, or 99 per cent, that is not enough, you have not solved the information paradox problem.”
Professor Hawking’s final research and book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, will be published globally on October 16.
The book, which the scientist was working on at the time of his death, sets out to answer fundamental questions about the nature of the cosmos.
Questions such as: Can we predict the future? Is there a God? Will artificial intelligence outsmart humans one day?
Lucy Hawking, on behalf of the Hawking Estate, said: “Communication was so important to our father in his lifetime and we see this book as an integral part of his legacy, bringing his scientific writing and his social commentary together into one beautiful edition, laced with a dose of his trademark dry humour.”
Express.co.uk will attend a pre-publication press launch of the book on Monday, October 15.