Thanks to Gato for sharing a link to an article from the Nautilus website. It discusses the fact that early next year we should be getting images and data from researchers who have been analyzing data collected by the Event Horizon Telescope which has been pointing at the area of the universe surrounding the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* in the center of the Milky Way.
The Nautilus article reports about the theories of George Chapline, a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who has an unconventional way of thinking about black holes: he doesn’t think they are real, rather he thinks they are “dark energy stars”.
From the article:
“Chapline believes that the immense energies in a collapsing star cause its protons and neutrons to decay into a gas of photons and other elementary particles, along with what he refers to as “droplets of vacuum energy.” These form a “condensed” phase of spacetime—much like a gas under enough pressure transitions to liquid—that has a much higher density of dark energy than the spacetime surrounding the star. This provides the pressure necessary to hold gravity at bay and prevent a singularity from forming. Without a singularity in spacetime, there is no black hole.[…]
“In recent years Chapline has continued to refine his dark energy star model in collaboration with several other authors, including Pawel Mazur of the University of South Carolina and Piotr Marecki of Leipzig University. He’s concluded that dark energy stars aren’t spherical or oblate, like black holes. Instead, they have the shape of a torus, or donut. In a rotating compact object, like a dark energy star, Chapline believes quantum effects in the spacetime condensate generate a large vortex along the object’s axis of rotation. Because the region inside the vortex is empty—think of the depression that forms at the center of whirlpool—the center of the dark energy star is hollow, like an apple without its core. A similar effect is observed when quantum mechanics is used to model rotating drops of superfluid. There too, a central vortex can form at the center of a rotating drop and, surprisingly, change its shape from a sphere to a torus.”
The article notes that Chapline’s theories are well outside the current thinking of members of the astrophysical community, but he believes that when the images of Sagittarius A* are released, they will provide support for his thinking.