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The Recoiling of Warped Space

Imagine two of the most gigantic and inexplicable forces of the universe.  Imagine them at  the center of galaxies creating orbits past which light itself cannot overcome.  You know what I’m talking about- imagine black-holes.  Now imagine them colliding into each-other. 

This kind of imagining is exactly what many astro-physicists have been doing, both abstractly and with the aid of computer simulations. The combination of the two have first lead to some puzzling results, but then also to advanced understanding. Simulations have shown that if two black holes were to collide they would likely merge.  So far so good (if you think enlarged black holes are a good thing!). Yet under certain circumstances the model also shows how it could occur that after the black holes to merge the  merged black hole would recoil as far as out of its very own galaxy!  For some time this phenomenon was not properly understood; however astrophysicists at Caltech, Cornell University, and the National Institute for Theoretical Physics in South Africa have developed concepts that could in fact explain it. 

The concept, really the concepts they’ve described are the processes of tendex lines and vortex lines, and both relate to how gravity shifts according the shifting of space within general relativity.   Tendex lines are those that describe the stretching that gravity enacts, very nicely displayed by the way the moon exerts tendex-lines on the Earth’s tides.  Vortex lines on the other hand describe what occurs when space is twisted, literally a phenomenon that would twist and break a material item through space itself.  The conglomeration of tendex lines into stretching-space is called a tendex, and that of vertex lines is called a vortex.  When Blackholes merge both of these forms of warped space are unleashed into the universe.  In other words with the black holes colliding a warped forms of space are expunged whole sale into the universe. This is the groups conceptual contribution.  

Armed with these two concepts the group was able to contribute directly to understanding the earlier phenomena, explaining how it could be that a merged black hole might recoil out of its galaxy.  The explanation developed is that while on the one side of the merged black hole the tendex and vortex would intercede with one another canceling out the effect of their special gravity, on the other side the tenedex and vortex would exert gravity outward in such a way that the recoil action of the force would knock the black hole straight out of its galaxy!   

Such then is the magnitude of black holes merging, but such also are the powers of a good concept capturing something new and impressive.    

See the article here and enjoy!

-Daniel Vinik

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