photo of the ant nebula I found on Google+
Pluto and Charon compared to Earth
Between Local and Laniakea
Behind the swirling spiral to the lower left of this image is a galaxy cluster.
Wormholes were first theorized in 1916, though that wasn’t what they were called at the time. While reviewing another physicist’s solution to the equations in Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, Austrian physicist Ludwig Flamm realized another solution was possible. He described a “white hole,” a theoretical time reversal of a black hole. Entrances to both black and white holes could be connected by a space-time conduit.
In 1935, Einstein and physicist Nathan Rosen used the theory of general relativity to elaborate on the idea, proposing the existence of “bridges” through space-time. These bridges connect two different points in space-time, theoretically creating a shortcut that could reduce travel time and distance. The shortcuts came to be called Einstein-Rosen bridges, or wormholes.
Certain solutions of general relativity allow for the existence of wormholes where the mouth of each is a black hole. However, a naturally occurring black hole, formed by the collapse of a dying star, does not by itself create a wormhole.
Wormholes are consistent with the general theory of relativity, but whether wormholes actually exist remains to be seen.
A wormhole could connect extremely long distances such as a billion light years or more, short distances such as a few meters, different universes, or different points in time
For a simplified notion of a wormhole, space can be visualized as a two-dimensional (2D) surface. In this case, a wormhole would appear as a hole in that surface, lead into a 3D tube (the inside surface of a cylinder), then re-emerge at another location on the 2D surface with a hole similar to the entrance. An actual wormhole would be analogous to this, but with the spatial dimensions raised by one. For example, instead of circular holes on a 2D plane, the entry and exit points could be visualized as spheres in 3D space.
Science fiction is filled with tales of traveling through wormholes. But the reality of such travel is more complicated, and not just because we’ve yet to spot one.
The first problem is size. Primordial wormholes are predicted to exist on microscopic levels, about 10–33 centimeters. However, as the universe expands, it is possible that some may have been stretched to larger sizes.
Another problem comes from stability. The predicted Einstein-Rosen wormholes would be useless for travel because they collapse quickly.
“You would need some very exotic type of matter in order to stabilize a wormhole,” said Hsu, “and it’s not clear whether such matter exists in the universe.”
But more recent research found that a wormhole containing “exotic” matter could stay open and unchanging for longer periods of time.
Exotic matter, which should not be confused with dark matter or antimatter, contains negative energy density and a large negative pressure. Such matter has only been seen in the behavior of certain vacuum states as part of quantum field theory.
If a wormhole contained sufficient exotic matter, whether naturally occurring or artificially added, it could theoretically be used as a method of sending information or travelers through space. Unfortunately, human journeys through the space tunnels may be challenging.
Wormholes may not only connect two separate regions within the universe, they could also connect two different universes. Similarly, some scientists have conjectured that if one mouth of a wormhole is moved in a specific manner, it could allow for time travel.
Although adding exotic matter to a wormhole might stabilize it to the point that human passengers could travel safely through it, there is still the possibility that the addition of “regular” matter would be sufficient to destabilize the portal.
Today’s technology is insufficient to enlarge or stabilize wormholes, even if they could be found. However, scientists continue to explore the concept as a method of space travel with the hope that technology will eventually be able to utilize them.
Twinkling stars are far more desirable to poets and romantics than to astronomers. Even in the near-pristine seeing conditions over Chile, home to ESO’s fleet of world-class telescopes, turbulence in Earth’s atmosphere causes stars to twinkle, blurring our view of the night sky.
These four laser beams are specially designed to combat this turbulence. The intense orange beams dominating this image originate from the 4 Laser Guide Star Facility, a state-of-the-art component of the Adaptive Optics Facility of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). Each beam is some 4000 times more powerful than a standard laser pointer! Each creates an artificial guide star by exciting sodium atoms high in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and causing them to glow.
Creating artificial guide stars allows astronomers to measure and correct for atmospheric distortion, by adjusting and calibrating the settings of their observing equipment to be as accurate as possible for that particular area of sky. This gives the VLT a crystal-clear view of the cosmos, so it can capture the wonders of the Universe in stunning detail.
The first image was made using a drone flying over the VLT by the ESO Photographic Ambassador, Gerhard Hüdepohl.
ESO/G. Hüdepohl, Babak Tafreshi, Mark McCaughrean
Artist’s logarithmic scale conception of the observable universe with the Solar System at the center, inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, nearby galaxies, Cosmic Web, Cosmic microwave radiation and Big Bang’s invisible plasma on the edge.
Credit: Wikipedia, Pablo Carlos Budassi