New research shows that gravitational fields around black holes might eddy and swirl

Jun 05, 2014
This artist's concept depicts a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy. The blue color here represents radiation pouring out from material very close to the black hole. The grayish structure surrounding the black hole, called a torus, is made up of gas and dust. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Fasten your seatbelts – gravity is about to get bumpy. Of course, if you're flying in the vicinity of a black hole, a bit of extra bumpiness is the least of your worries. But it's still surprising. The accepted wisdom among gravitational researchers has been that spacetime cannot become turbulent. New research from Perimeter, though, shows that the accepted wisdom might be wrong.

The researchers followed this line of thought: Gravity, it's thought, can behave as a fluid. One of the characteristic behaviours of fluids is turbulence – that is, under certain conditions, they don't move smoothly, but eddy and swirl. Can gravity do that too?

Perimeter Faculty member Luis Lehner explains why it might make sense to treat gravity as a fluid. "There's a conjecture in physics – the holographic conjecture – which says gravity can be described as a field theory," he says. "And we also know that at high energies, field theories can be described with the mathematical tools we use to describe fluids. So it's a two-step dance: gravity equals field theory, and field theory equals fluids, so gravity equals fields equals fluids. That's called the gravity/fluids duality."

The gravity/fluids duality is not new work – it's been developing over the past six years. But hidden at the heart of it is a tension. If gravity can be treated as a fluid, then what about turbulence?

"For many years, the folklore among physicists was that gravity could not be turbulent," notes Lehner. The belief was that gravity is described by a set of equations that are sufficiently different from fluid dynamics equations, such that there would not be turbulence under any circumstances.

Lehner highlights the emerging paradox: "Either there was a problem with the duality and gravity really can't be fully captured by a fluid description, or there was a new phenomenon in gravity and turbulent gravity really can exist." A team of researchers – Lehner, Huan Yang (Perimeter and the Institute for Quantum Computing), and Aaron Zimmerman (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics) – set out to find out which.

They had hints about what directions to go. Previous simulations at Perimeter, and independent work out of MIT, had hinted that there could be turbulence around the non-realistic case of confined in anti-de Sitter space. "There might be turbulence if you confine gravity in a box, essentially," says Lehner. "The deeper question is whether this can happen in a realistic situation."

The team decided to study fast-spinning black holes, because a fluid-dynamics description of such holes hints that the spacetime around them is less viscous than the spacetime around other kinds of black holes. Low viscosity increases the chance of turbulence – think of the way water is more swirly than molasses.

The team also decided to study non-linear perturbations of the black holes. Gravitational systems are rarely analyzed at this level of detail, as the equations are fiendishly complex. But, knowing that turbulence is fundamentally non-linear, the team decided a non-linear perturbation analysis was exactly what was called for.

They were stunned when their analysis showed that spacetime did become turbulent.

"I was quite surprised," says Yang, who has been studying general relativity (GR) – Einstein's theory of gravity – since his PhD. "I never believed in turbulent behaviour in GR, and for good reason. No one had ever seen it in numerical simulations, even of dramatic things like binary black holes."

"Over the past few years, we have gone from a serious doubt about whether gravity can ever go turbulent, to pretty high confidence that it can," says Lehner.

How did this behaviour hide until now? "It was hidden because the analysis needed to see it has to go to non-linear orders," says Yang. "People didn't have enough motivation to do a non-linear study. But, this time, we knew what we were looking for. It gave us the motivation to do a more in-depth study. We had a target and we hit it."

This is theoretical work, but it might not stay that way. There are next-generation detectors about to come online which might soon be able to detect – ripples in the gravitational "fluid" that result from big events like the collision of two black holes. If gravitation can be turbulent, then those ripples might be a bit different than previous models suggest. Knowing about these differences may make gravitational waves easier to spot. And, of course, actually detecting these differences would be direct evidence of gravitational turbulence.

"There are potential observational consequences of this discovery," says Lehner. "LIGO or LISA or some future gravitational wave experiment may be able to detect them."

But one of the most exciting consequences of this research relates not to gravity, but to ordinary, Earth-bound turbulence. From hurricanes to cream stirred into coffee, from the bumblebee's impossible flight to the vortices shearing off the end of airplane wings, turbulence is all around us. Yet we don't fully understand it. It's considered one of the greatest unsolved problems in classical physics.

This research strengthens the idea that gravity can be treated as a fluid – which also means that fluids can be treated gravitationally.

"We've been stuck for over 500 years on achieving a full understanding of turbulence," says Lehner. "This /fluid correspondence tells us that there is a way to use gravitational tools and gravitational intuition to take a fresh look at . We may end up as stuck as we are in our standard approach, or we may end up shedding completely new light that helps the field go forward. It's very exciting."

Explore further: Liquid spacetime: A very slippery superfluid, that's what spacetime could be like

More information: Read the original paper on arXiv: arxiv.org/abs/1402.4859

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can you escape the force of gravity?

Apr 08, 2014

It feels like you just can't get away from clingy gravity. Even separated by distances of hundreds of millions of light years, gravity is reaching out to all of us. Is there a place you could go to get away ...

Can light orbit a black hole?

Mar 25, 2014

Since black holes are the most powerful gravitational spots in the entire Universe, can they distort light so much that it actually goes into orbit? And what would it look like if you could survive and follow ...

Mapping the road to quantum gravity

Apr 23, 2014

The road uniting quantum field theory and general relativity – the two great theories of modern physics – has been impassable for 80 years. Could a tool from condensed matter physics finally help map ...

Recommended for you

Finding faster-than-light particles by weighing them

12 hours ago

In a new paper accepted by the journal Astroparticle Physics, Robert Ehrlich, a recently retired physicist from George Mason University, claims that the neutrino is very likely a tachyon or faster-than-light par ...

Controlling core switching in Pac-man disks

Dec 24, 2014

Magnetic vortices in thin films can encode information in the perpendicular magnetization pointing up or down relative to the vortex core. These binary states could be useful for non-volatile data storage ...

Atoms queue up for quantum computer networks

Dec 24, 2014

In order to develop future quantum computer networks, it is necessary to hold a known number of atoms and read them without them disappearing. To do this, researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute have developed ...

New video supports radiation dosimetry audits

Dec 23, 2014

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), working with the National Radiotherapy Trials Quality Assurance Group, has produced a video guide to support physicists participating in radiation dosimetry audits.

Acoustic tweezers manipulate cell-to-cell contact

Dec 22, 2014

Sound waves can precisely position groups of cells for study without the danger of changing or damaging the cells, according to a team of Penn State researchers who are using surface acoustic waves to manipulate ...

User comments : 29

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

arom
1 / 5 (9) Jun 05, 2014
Perimeter Faculty member Luis Lehner explains why it might make sense to treat gravity as a fluid. "There's a conjecture in physics – the holographic conjecture – which says gravity can be described as a field theory," he says…
This is theoretical work, but it might not stay that way. There are next-generation detectors about to come online which might soon be able to detect gravitational waves – ripples in the gravitational "fluid" that result from big events like the collision of two black holes.


This seems interesting on the idea that at least there is something works as the transmitting medium for gravity force in which both Newton and Einstein theory have not. Maybe this resemblance idea could help the research …
http://www.vacuum...=7〈=en
MrPressure
Jun 06, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
mark_mnarkwynne
1.1 / 5 (11) Jun 06, 2014
Gravitational waves are a flight of fancy, straw clutching. desperation to explain something we don't understand yet.

Why

Well, lets break it down. A gravitational wave would be a moving geometric propagation, or simply a moving space time curvature, which unfortunately means it would be decoupled from mass. 0 mass 0 gravity.

General relativity prevents gravitational waves without mass waves to generate the geometric propagation or "curved space time"

Gravitational waves are nonsense
Teper
Jun 06, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Teper
Jun 06, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Uncle Ira
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 06, 2014
This roughly corresponds the time, for which the dense aether model is banned and censored at PhysOrg...;-) And downvoted with most of people here in the name of "pure science". But the real scientists don't bother about opinion of anonymous trolls and censors: they simply pursue the perspective ideas.


@ Zephir-Skippy, that is you yes? How you are Neg? Can you answer the not so much science question for me? What I really want to know is how it is you go about picking out the new names. They all are so odd to me, but they all really like each other. Maybe I'm not seeing it because I am from Louisiana and you are from some other place. Is there the dictionary where I can look up the words to see what they mean?
mark_mnarkwynne
1.3 / 5 (12) Jun 06, 2014
Einstein's theory does not deal with gravity. There are no force in general relativity. Newtonian force invoked to give the geometrical propagation of alleged space time curvature physical properties. patchwork science.

It seems people overlook simple logic here, and go for the most fanciful explanation, and of course these explanations are all fantastically theoretical and not based in reality at all.

The basis for our understanding for the universe is a set of theories patched together than contradict each other. No wonder people are still talking about black holes as if they are proven real.. theory is not science.

Gravity is not a fluid. Space time is not a fluid. It's effects are instant.
if the sun disappeared right now, earth would feel the impact instantly not 8 minute later, the time it takes for light to reach us.



MrPressure
Jun 06, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MrPressure
Jun 06, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
sandler
1 / 5 (2) Jun 06, 2014
When plane or a ship travels through medium like air or water and encounters a breach in the medium a turbulence occurs. May be also in space without a medium but with stable gravitational pull from one direction and ships moving across it will undergo a turbulence if sudden gravitational shift occurs.
Uncle Ira
4.2 / 5 (10) Jun 06, 2014
Einstein's theory does not deal with gravity. There are no force in general relativity. Newtonian force invoked to give the geometrical propagation of alleged space time curvature physical properties. patchwork science.


Skippy if you think Einstein-Skippy and Newton-Skippy got it all wrong then why you think all the stuffs they came up with seems to work so good?

It seems people overlook simple logic here, and go for the most fanciful explanation, and of course these explanations are all fantastically theoretical and not based in reality at all.


You mean the rockets and the satellites aren't working really? The planets and moons aren't doing what the Einstein-Skippy and the Newton-Skippy say?

theory is not science.


How you have the science if you don't have the science theories Cher? You the first Skippy I've seen here that is trying to be scientific without having a theory, and let me tell you, we got the really strange science Skippys here,

MrPressure
Jun 06, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (11) Jun 06, 2014
Can you told what happening for expanding space when expanding space expanding?

no you cant!

can you told what happening for zeus, when flash hit?

no you cant!

expanding space and zeus are gods which is not exist!

Onesimpleprinciple.com


Skippy, I think you need to check the relief value. The pressure is getting pretty high and is about to break something important that you might need later.
Incosa
2.3 / 5 (4) Jun 06, 2014
IMO this observation says more about dynamic nature of black holes than about fluidity of space-time. It reveals, that the black holes don't differ conceptually from another stars with their dynamic processes and turbulence of plasma above surface. Even if we admit, that classical relativity (Lense-Thirring drag) is what applies here, it just means that event horizon doesn't separates the outside of black hole from its interior: the outside space-time "feels" that this interior is moving, which means, some physical surface (aka "firewall") must exist here.
Gawad
5 / 5 (5) Jun 06, 2014
Skippy, I think you need to check the relief value. The pressure is getting pretty high and is about to break something important that you might need later.


Priceless.
Gawad
5 / 5 (4) Jun 06, 2014
gravity/fluids duality is not new work – it's been developing over the past six years
This roughly corresponds the time, for which the dense aether model is banned and censored at PhysOrg...;-) And downvoted with most of people here in the name of "pure science". But the real scientists don't bother about opinion of anonymous trolls and censors: they simply pursue the perspective ideas.


No, Zeph! It's called electron duck hunting is all. I've seen some real scientists go electron duck hunting, not often, but they're pretty good shots when they do head out.

The cool thing is, you don't even have to wear a camo outfit to do it.
metavox
2.5 / 5 (4) Jun 06, 2014
I would pay good money to restrict all commenting to accredited specialists in their field. Anyone in favor?
Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (4) Jun 06, 2014
I would pay good money to restrict all commenting to accredited specialists in their field. Anyone in favor?


Well that don't sound like so much fun tor me. I vote the no. (But I will give you the good karma points because I think your heart is in the right place.)

But it might save me some money if I don't have to buy so many silly looking pointy caps like I do now. In just the last four or three days there is 7 or 6 new peoples who showed up without their own, lucky for them the Walmart in ol Ira-Skippy's neighborhood had them on sale.

But ol Ira is suspecting that they are really some old hands who lost the ones I already gave them and come back with new names because they thought I'd be mad at them for losing them at some other place where wearing one is required at the door for the more stupid-Skippys.
Bob Osaka
not rated yet Jun 06, 2014
just observed magnetic turbulence and now this new problem by Perimeter. Think about the problem with entanglements, Einstein's objection to invisible strings, nonlinear thinking led to this idea of gravitational turbulence, supposing the optimal condition for observation would be at the moment of the formation of a singularity, fluid dynamics in reverse.
Throwing a pebble into a smooth pond, the waves propagate outward, run that image backward in your mind, imagine an inward propagation of waves. The phase velocity and the angular frequency have thus far been thought to mimic electromagnetic waves, perhaps what we observe with the speed of light is propagation delay and space/time doesn't exist from the point of view of a singularity.
MrPressure
Jun 07, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
mark_mnarkwynne
1 / 5 (5) Jun 08, 2014
Oh dear, there are some seriously deluded theories out there. "Detect gravitational waves" without corresponding mass? Utter garbage.

Plasma, made of of nuclei from particles stripped down provide the mass for propagating waves of gravity, unlike theoretical astrophysics and other theoretical disciplines Plasma cosmology is a science. Observed replicated and predicted with accuracy.

When light passes through this plasma or microwaves propagate through the plasma the propagation direction of the gravitational force can be detected, making it wave like.

Look at former NASA Physicist Dr. Ed Dowdye: Solar Gravitation and Solar Plasma Wave Propagation
Real science and not this magical nonsense that exists only in the minds of people
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 08, 2014
For gravity to be turbulent it has to have a finite speed (something taht is expected but not yet confirmed as far as i know). So this work goes some way to showing that. I'm wondering how such turulence would show up in the lensing around massive black holes, or whether the effect is tii small/fleeting to observe.

Certainly something that should be looked at and tested with the advanced LIGO (if it is sensitive enough) and/or lensing observations (given the same proviso)
Uncle Ira
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 08, 2014
Look at former NASA Physicist Dr. Ed Dowdye: Solar Gravitation and Solar Plasma Wave Propagation
Real science and not this magical nonsense that exists only in the minds of people


Hey Skippy, is that the man that bumped his head and started getting prophecy visions of God and decided to mix up the Einstein with the Plasma and the Creator to get the new theory (we call him gumbo) of foolishment?

To me what I find on the google this Dowdye-Skippy sounds like he has got the Reg-Skippy and the cantdrive-Skippy and the Really-Skippy and the Gitt-Skippy and the no-fate-Skippy in the same room at the same time and stirred all their ideas together into one new theory (gumbo). Does this mean you guys are joining up to take on the normal science-Skippys together?
Horus
5 / 5 (3) Jun 08, 2014
Anti-science groupies truly are an expected probability model byproduct of stupid is as stupid does; and the Net gives us them without having to pay for it. Growing up these idiots just mocked science when they headed off to waste time in shop [not because they appreciated woodshop/metalshop and had a talent for it, but because they thought it was an easy grade], but now they pretend to be scientists as if they can fool a single person who has any applied science background.

I have yet to read anyone discuss turbulent/laminar flows in practical applications and how treating various mass/energy clusters would exhibit similar behaviors.

Instead, I read a bunch of 2 year olds being slapped hard and asking for me. Pathetic.
Rohitasch
5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2014
MrPressure, If you are experiencing absolute clarity and grandeur, you need to start reading those text books from scratch and get (back?) on those pills.
RealityCheck
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 08, 2014
Poor, poor "Uncle Ira" bot operator, still TROLLING (and alluding to RealityCheck without any due cause)?

And still rating without due consideration of content/ideas?

And still making empty posts deluding yourself you have anything of import to say about anything?

You're as dumb as your bot program, you poor poor dumb sockpuppet/troll.

That Physorg admin allows you still to post trolling and 'personal' comments without any contribution to science discourse on the merits, shows that you are a dishonest mod-troll and pretender.

You've been busted Uncle Ira, you trolling pretender moron. Move on, idiot shit, and stink up your own place and leave this one alone. You poor, busted, pathetic pathological internet troll...and that's being kind in describing what you actually are and what you are actually doing across the net, shithead. :)
Uncle Ira
3 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2014
Really-Skippy, you having the bad day Cher? Why you make me the misere for no reason? I been leaving you alone, why you not do that the same for me? I never use the bad words for you so shouldn't do that for me. Maybe you should try to do better, okayee matey-Skippy?
RealityCheck
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 08, 2014
Poor poor "uncle Ira", still pretending.

You still allude to me disparagingly without due cause. And you still post science-empty personality-cult trolling posts. And you still rate-by-bot without due consideration of idea/content.

What more reasons to call out your stupid troll/sockpuppet pretenses, dummy?

Dick off, dickhead mod-troll. You're busted and just plain boring 'idiot shit poster' now, bot-operating troll. You overplayed your hand and become too pathetic and embarrassing to everyone who ever 'friended' you without knowing how lame a troll idiot shit you are across the net. Dumb sociopath is all you ever were, "Uncle Ira" troll/sockpuppet dummy doo-doo. Poor poor Uncle Ira shithead. Move on, bot-dummy. :)
Incosa
1 / 5 (1) Jun 08, 2014
I would pay good money to restrict all commenting to accredited specialists in their field.
But accredited scientists in their field just didn't expect the above finding. The general relativity prohibits it in its current state. Instead of it, every troll here will tell you: "of course, the space-time is a fluid. You didn't know that?"
ichisan
3 / 5 (4) Jun 09, 2014
There is only one problem with all this nonsense: Nothing can move in spacetime. This is the reason that Karl Popper called it "Einstein's block universe in which nothing happens." The crackpottery in physics is appalling.
Incosa
1 / 5 (1) Jun 09, 2014
Nothing can move in spacetime
It's true, but you should explain, why it is so, or the people will downvote you, because they will not understand you. It can be explained by example of gravitational wave in 1T3D space-time. The gravitational wave itself is 4D object and the time-dimension is already consumed for creation of its space-time curvature and the said wave will be remain stationary, frozen in space-time. The more dense objects can be considered a more curved gravitational waves (J.A.Wheeler's geons), but the principle of the whole logics remains the very same: until the massive body creates a temporal field around itself, the time dimension cannot occur anymore in strictly 1T3D spacetime. Analogously, the special relativity even doesn't allow any gravitational lensing and change in speed of light induced with it. In special relativity the Universe would be not only stationary, but completely flat too, i.e. without all massive bodies and their space-time curvatures.
Mimath224
not rated yet Jun 09, 2014
@antialias_physorg you might be able to help me. GR is about gravity being geometric rather than a force? Gravity Waves might be varying grav intensity (in layman's terms)? If a BH consumes matter at a high rate (assuming a suitable amount of matter is available) would this affect the grav intensity? Plus frame dragging...would produce a 'bumpy ride'?
Continuums can be treated as as 'fluids' so the Space-Time Continuum might be treated that way also? I apologise for the various questions but I'm trying to understand how the GR geometry might behave as a continuum/medium. Thanks in advance.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jun 09, 2014
GR is about gravity being geometric rather than a force?

You can model it as geometric. But you can also model it as something that happens via interchange of discrete packets (gravitons). It's still a bit early to tell. But we do know that something has to give when we interface gravity with quantum mechanics (and the way I read it, it will probably be GR and we'll have to let go of a continuum idea. But that's just my private hunch)

If a BH consumes matter at a high rate (assuming a suitable amount of matter is available) would this affect the grav intensity?

If it consumes from a disc (and the disc is relatively symmetric) then there won't be a gravity wave at all. There's actually a good list of what will/will not radiate gravity waves on wikipedia:

http://en.wikiped...al_waves
Mimath224
not rated yet Jun 09, 2014
@antialias_physorg Thanks for the reply but I'm still finding it difficult to associate a graviton as a discrete part of a geometrical form...that is, just how small is a graviton?. I am aware that it is considered a elementary Boson but also aware the there are still problems (eg. cannot be renormalized)...I'll just have to continue 'updating' and maybe I'll see the light.
no fate
1 / 5 (2) Jun 09, 2014
I would pay good money to restrict all commenting to accredited specialists in their field. Anyone in favor?


This is theoretical astrophysics. There is a reason alot of intelligent people have differing views on how the universe works. All we have to work with is electromagnetic radiation, math, and our interpretations based on what we experiment with here on earth as a proxy.

"which might soon be able to detect gravitational waves"

Perhaps the specialists in their field above aren't aware of Wiki, knowing where to look should help them find what they are looking for. Unless of course math somehow is wrong and there aren't gravity waves...in which case the math that says where to find them is also useless. I'll provide a link to the all of the visual evidence we have of gravity waves below:

enjoy.
Teper
Jun 09, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Teper
Jun 09, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 09, 2014
I'm still finding it difficult to associate a graviton as a discrete part of a geometrical form..that is, just how small is a graviton?

Don' think of it as something with a defines size (that already makes very little sense in the context of protons, electrons and the like - and even less in the case of photons).
Think of it as a mediator that exchanges some sort of information (or 'action' if you will). It's just a thought construct to model what we're observing. You can model things many ways: as fields, as particle interchanges, ... it all amounts to the same thing (the same formula) in the end.

With the force carrier for the other forces already identified it's just a first 'common sense' speculation that gravity also has one. It may not - but we should first rule out the likely before fishing for the unlikley.
mohammadshafiq_khan_1
Jun 26, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.