Synopsis: Creating Hawking Radiation in the Lab?

New calculations suggest that laser-based experiments could provide a model system for studying the faint Hawking radiation emitted by black holes.
Synopsis figure
Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7

Researchers would love to be able to observe the inner workings of black holes, but the measurable information escaping from them is scant. Theory says, for instance, that the Hawking radiation they might release would be so faint that it would disappear in the cosmic microwave background. However, a similar phenomenon could be observed in laboratory analogs of black holes, based on wave phenomena described by the same equations. Writing in Physical Review A, Stefano Finazzi at Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, France, and Iacopo Carusotto at the University of Trento, Italy, analyze recent controversial claims of Hawking-radiation detection in optical experiments. Their analysis clarifies why such claims are not yet conclusive and suggests how improved experiments may deliver an unequivocal signature of Hawking radiation.

Optical analogs of black holes are based on the idea that event horizons can occur when a short laser pulse propagates in a nonlinear medium, modifying its index of refraction in the same way that gravity changes spacetime. In this situation, the leading edge of the pulse could correspond to a black hole horizon (no light can escape it), while the trailing edge to a white hole horizon (a boundary that nothing can enter). Both horizons would be associated with the emission of radiation bearing the characteristics of Hawking radiation: correlated photon pairs, one inside and one outside the horizon. Focusing on the white hole horizon, the authors show the calculated emission agrees qualitatively with that observed in previous experiments, but the detailed analysis indicates that several competing effects could lead to similar experimental signatures. The researchers suggest that an ultimate proof of Hawking radiation could be gathered by measuring the nonclassical correlations between the emitted photons. – Matteo Rini


Features

More Features »

Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

OpticsAstrophysics

Previous Synopsis

Next Synopsis

Related Articles

Synopsis: Space Measurements of Secondary Cosmic Rays
Astrophysics

Synopsis: Space Measurements of Secondary Cosmic Rays

New data from the International Space Station shed light on how secondary cosmic rays propagate through space. Read More »

Viewpoint: X-Ray Probe Targets Interfaces
Optics

Viewpoint: X-Ray Probe Targets Interfaces

A new spectroscopy technique employs x rays from a free electron laser to measure the properties of interfaces that may be hidden within a material. Read More »

Viewpoint: A Multimode Dial for Interatomic Interactions
Optics

Viewpoint: A Multimode Dial for Interatomic Interactions

A tunable multimode optical cavity modifies interactions between atomic condensates trapped in its interior from long range to short range, paving the way towards exploring novel collective quantum phenomena. Read More »

More Articles