Astrophysicists have long speculated about the existence of “kugelblitze,” black holes caused by extreme concentrations of light. However, a new study by researchers at the University of Waterloo and Universidad Complutense de Madrid challenges this theory. According to their research, titled “No black holes from light,” published on the arXiv preprint server, kugelblitze are impossible in our current universe.

The common understanding of black holes is that they are formed by the collapse of regular matter under its own gravity. This led to the speculation that a concentration of light energy could also result in a black hole. However, the team of researchers took quantum effects into account in their mathematical model and found that the concentration of light required for kugelblitze would be significantly higher than observed in quasars, the brightest objects in the universe.

José Polo-Gómez, a Ph.D. candidate involved in the research, explains that before reaching the intensity of light required for kugelblitze, quantum effects come into play. These effects would lead to the creation of particles like electron-positron pairs, which would scatter away from the area at a rapid pace. This phenomenon makes the formation of kugelblitze unachievable in our current universe.

While the conditions necessary to test the theory of kugelblitze are impossible to recreate on Earth with current technology, the researchers are confident in their predictions. They rely on the same mathematical and scientific principles that power positron emission tomography (PET) scans to support their findings. The phenomenon of “vacuum polarization” and the Schwinger effect play a crucial role in preventing the creation of black holes from light.

The discovery of the impossibility of kugelblitze may disappoint astrophysicists, but it represents a significant achievement in fundamental physics research. This research, enabled by collaboration between applied mathematics, the Perimeter Institute, and the Institute for Quantum Computing at Waterloo, lays the groundwork for future technological innovations. While the practical applications of these discoveries may not be apparent now, they contribute to advancing our understanding of the universe and its fundamental principles.


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