Science/Tech

Black Holes Have Power To Take Humans To Other Star Systems, Study Says

The mysterious black holes in the universe are known for their strong energy. New study suggests that such energy could actually help humans travel from our solar system to another. 

Interstellar travel to date remains a concept despite the latest advancements in space technologies. Such journey would require significantly high costs, extremely long time and fuel.

But for David Kipping, head of Columbia University's Cool Worlds lab, traveling from one star system to another could be a reality with the help of black holes. He suggested that a spacecraft could rely on a “Halo Drive” that uses the gravitational force of a black hole to reach incredible speeds.

"Interstellar travel is one of the most challenging technical feats we can conceive of,” Kipping told Universe Today. "Whilst we can envisage drifting between the stars over millions of years – which is legitimately interstellar travel – to achieve journeys on timescales of centuries or less requires relativistic propulsion."

In his study, Kipping suggested the concept made by theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson in the 1960s. The idea is to utilize intense gravity from binary stars to perform a slingshot maneuver, which could allow a spacecraft to receive a significant boost in velocity.

Expanding Dyson’s concept, Kipping said black holes could deliver more powerful gravitational slingshots. According to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, there could be as many as 100 million black holes in the Milky Way galaxy alone and they could be delivering strong gravitational wave signals. 

Kipping wants to use binary black holes for the interstellar travel. He explained that binary black holes appear as “giant mirrors circling around one another at potentially high velocity.” 

“The halo drive exploits this by bouncing photons off the ‘mirror’ as the mirror approaches you, the photons bounce back, pushing you along, but also steal some of the energy from the black hole binary itself,” Kipping said. "Using this setup, one can harvest the binary black hole energy for propulsion."

Harnessing such great energy would enable a spacecraft to travel without the need for fuel.

Also, gravitational slingshot has been proven by previous research. According to a Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics study, some stars are being kicked out of their galaxies due to galactic mergers and interaction with massive black holes.

To date, Kipping’s proposal remains a concept since there are still challenges when it comes to bringing humans closer to the nearest black hole. Nevertheless, it shows exciting possibilities for the future.

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