Micro black holes could form at lower-than-expected energies
New simulations of head-on collisions of particles travelling at nearly the speed of light show that black-hole formation can occur at lower collision energies than expected, according to a team of researchers in the US. The researchers attribute this to a “gravitational focusing effect” whereby the two colliding particles act like gravitational lenses, focusing the energy of the collision into two distinct light-trapping regions that eventually collapse into a single black hole. Although the work shows that black holes can form at lower collision energies than expected, the team says that the result has no impact on real particle collisions taking place at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.
From 2008 onwards, when the LHC was first scheduled to be switched on, there were rumours about what the experiment might create – extra dimensions, sparticles and strangelets, vacuum bubbles and, of course, planet-destroying black holes. Although the experiment ran seamlessly from November 2009 for more than two years and scientists found no evidence whatsoever for the formation of micro black holes, the fascination with black-hole formation and evaporation continues – among researchers and the media.