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How a water tank can be used to simulate a black hole

7 Feb 2019, 10:01 UTC
How a water tank can be used to simulate a black hole
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Some aspects of a black hole cannot be directly observed, so astronomers rely on equivalent Earth-based experiments. Image credit: ESO, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser
Certain phenomena that occur in black holes but cannot be directly observed in astronomic investigations can be studied by means of a laboratory simulation. This is possible due to a peculiar analogy between processes that are characteristic of black holes and hydrodynamic processes. The common denominator is the similarity of wave propagation in both cases.
This possibility is explored in a new article published in Physical Review Letters. Physicist Maurício Richartz, a professor at the Federal University of the ABC (UFABC) in Brazil, is one of the authors of the article, produced by Silke Weinfurtner’s group at the University of Nottingham’s School of Mathematical Sciences in the United Kingdom. The research was supported by FAPESP via the Thematic Project “Physics and geometry of spacetime”, for which Alberto Vazquez Saa is the principal investigator.
“While this study is entirely theoretical, we’ve also performed experimental simulations at Weinfurtner’s lab,” says Richartz. “The apparatus consists basically of a large water tank measuring three metres (10 feet) by 1.5 metre (five feet). The water flows out through a central drain and ...

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