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A supermassive black hole.

A supermassive black hole sits inside the galaxy Centaurus A, as seen in a composite picture.

Image courtesy NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al., MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. and ESO/WFI

Ker Than

for National Geographic News

Published April 9, 2010

Like part of a cosmic Russian doll, our universe may be nested inside a black hole that is itself part of a larger universe.

In turn, all the black holes found so far in our universe—from the microscopic to the supermassive—may be doorways into alternate realities.

According to a mind-bending new theory, a black hole is actually a tunnel between universes—a type of wormhole. The matter the black hole attracts doesn't collapse into a single point, as has been predicted, but rather gushes out a "white hole" at the other end of the black one, the theory goes.

(Related: "New Proof Unknown 'Structures' Tug at Our Universe.")

In a recent paper published in the journal Physics Letters B, Indiana University physicist Nikodem Poplawski presents new mathematical models of the spiraling motion of matter falling into a black hole. His equations suggest such wormholes are viable alternatives to the "space-time singularities" that Albert Einstein predicted to be at the centers of black holes.

According to Einstein's equations for general relativity, singularities are created whenever matter in a given region gets too dense, as would happen at the ultradense heart of a black hole.

Einstein's theory suggests singularities take up no space, are infinitely dense, and are infinitely hot—a concept supported by numerous lines of indirect evidence but still so outlandish that many scientists find it hard to accept.

If Poplawski is correct, they may no longer have to.

According to the new equations, the matter black holes absorb and seemingly destroy is actually expelled and becomes the building blocks for galaxies, stars, and planets in another reality.

(Related: "Dark Energy's Demise? New Theory Doesn't Use the Force.")

Wormholes Solve Big Bang Mystery?

The notion of black holes as wormholes could explain certain mysteries in modern cosmology, Poplawski said.

For example, the big bang theory says the universe started as a singularity. But scientists have no satisfying explanation for how such a singularity might have formed in the first place.

If our universe was birthed by a white hole instead of a singularity, Poplawski said, "it would solve this problem of black hole singularities and also the big bang singularity."

Wormholes might also explain gamma ray bursts, the second most powerful explosions in the universe after the big bang.

Gamma ray bursts occur at the fringes of the known universe. They appear to be associated with supernovae, or star explosions, in faraway galaxies, but their exact sources are a mystery. (Related: "Gamma-Ray Burst Caused Mass Extinction?")

Poplawski proposes that the bursts may be discharges of matter from alternate universes. The matter, he says, might be escaping into our universe through supermassive black holes—wormholes—at the hearts of those galaxies, though it's not clear how that would be possible.

"It's kind of a crazy idea, but who knows?" he said. (Related: "Are Wormholes Tunnels for Time Travel?")

There is at least one way to test Poplawski's theory: Some of our universe's black holes rotate, and if our universe was born inside a similarly revolving black hole, then our universe should have inherited the parent object's rotation.

If future experiments reveal that our universe appears to rotate in a preferred direction, it would be indirect evidence supporting his wormhole theory, Poplawski said.

Wormholes Are "Exotic Matter" Makers?

The wormhole theory may also help explain why certain features of our universe deviate from what theory predicts, according to physicists.

Based on the standard model of physics, after the big bang the curvature of the universe should have increased over time so that now—13.7 billion years later—we should seem to be sitting on the surface of a closed, spherical universe.

But observations show the universe appears flat in all directions.

What's more, data on light from the very early universe show that everything just after the big bang was a fairly uniform temperature.

That would mean that the farthest objects we see on opposite horizons of the universe were once close enough to interact and come to equilibrium, like molecules of gas in a sealed chamber.

Again, observations don't match predictions, because the objects farthest from each other in the known universe are so far apart that the time it would take to travel between them at the speed of light exceeds the age of the universe.

To explain the discrepancies, astronomers devised the concept of inflation.

Inflation states that shortly after the universe was created, it experienced a rapid growth spurt during which space itself expanded at faster-than-light speeds. The expansion stretched the universe from a size smaller than an atom to astronomical proportions in a fraction of a second.

The universe therefore appears flat, because the sphere we're sitting on is extremely large from our viewpoint—just as the sphere of Earth seems flat to someone standing in a field.

Inflation also explains how objects so far away from each other might have once been close enough to interact.

But—assuming inflation is real—astronomers have always been at pains to explain what caused it. That's where the new wormhole theory comes in.

According to Poplawski, some theories of inflation say the event was caused by "exotic matter," a theoretical substance that differs from normal matter, in part because it is repelled rather than attracted by gravity.

Based on his equations, Poplawski thinks such exotic matter might have been created when some of the first massive stars collapsed and became wormholes.

"There may be some relationship between the exotic matter that forms wormholes and the exotic matter that triggered inflation," he said.

(Related: "Before the Big Bang: Light Shed on 'Previous Universe.'")

Wormhole Equations an "Actual Solution"

The new model isn't the first to propose that other universes exist inside black holes. Damien Easson, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, has made the speculation in previous studies.

"What is new here is an actual wormhole solution in general relativity that acts as the passage from the exterior black hole to the new interior universe," said Easson, who was not involved in the new study.

"In our paper, we just speculated that such a solution could exist, but Poplawski has found an actual solution," said Easson, referring to Poplawski's equations.

(Related: "Universe 20 Million Years Older Than Thought.")

Nevertheless, the idea is still very speculative, Easson said in an email.

"Is the idea possible? Yes. Is the scenario likely? I have no idea. But it is certainly an interesting possibility."

Future work in quantum gravity—the study of gravity at the subatomic level—could refine the equations and potentially support or disprove Poplawski's theory, Easson said.

Wormhole Theory No Breakthrough

Overall, the wormhole theory is interesting, but not a breakthrough in explaining the origins of our universe, said Andreas Albrecht, a physicist at the University of California, Davis, who was also not involved in the new study.

By saying our universe was created by a gush of matter from a parent universe, the theory simply shifts the original creation event into an alternate reality.

In other words, it doesn't explain how the parent universe came to be or why it has the properties it has—properties our universe presumably inherited.

"There're really some pressing problems we're trying to solve, and it's not clear that any of this is offering a way forward with that," he said.

Still, Albrecht doesn't find the idea of universe-bridging wormholes any stranger than the idea of black hole singularities, and he cautions against dismissing the new theory just because it sounds a little out there.

"Everything people ask in this business is pretty weird," he said. "You can't say the less weird [idea] is going to win, because that's not the way it's been, by any means."

26 comments
Louis Morelli
Louis Morelli

Why building blocks for other Universes and not for new stars, galaxies of this Universe? Like any natural vortex do it? Like the womb of females do it?


Mathematicians are doing a corrosive job to the field of Math, the same way that the Bible's writers did a corrosive job to their religion when their minds extrapolated beyond what the field reveals or can explain, for instance, with the affirmation that Earth is 6.000 years old. 

The nucleus of galaxies never could be observed, so, black wholes is a mathematical theory, which are extrapolating the limits when Math can not translates natural phenomena. See at other theory, called "The Universal Matrix for Natural Systems and Life's Cycles", which is not a mathematical approach but a biological one, and what this theory is suggesting that has hidden inside those nucleus. The idea that the galactic nucleus produces building blocks for astronomical systems ( and not for universes- which weird idea!) was announced by this theory 30 years ago. 

Mathematicians should understanding that the world is too much complex for human mind to know it, that the human mind can not grasp the language of the world, that the world is built upon a hierarchy of different dimensions ( String Theory suggests there are 11 dimensions!) which means different ways for organizing matter and different levels of natural laws, mechanisms and processes, into systems, so, Math will not translate more than the physical foundations with its mechanical movements.


The human body, for instance, can have only its bone skeleton translated by Math, but, the most complexes next levels, the soft level of meat and organs, the mysterious level of consciousness, can not be worked with Math. If you insist, you will see ghosts where there is none, like black holes are imagined ghosts of space. The limit of Math for calculation what is hidden inside the galactic nucleus is when the forces and elements arrives to the limit of extreme singularity: never Nature goes beyond this limit, never reaches again the point of singularity. Before that, systems are transformed into other shapes of systems. Then, the absurdity of this theory about black holes. If mathematicians wants to research what is going there, leave out from Math and take in Biology now. Math already did a good job describing most of the Universe physical skeleton, now is time for beginning to learn about its soft level.

Roland Dorau
Roland Dorau

Since the singularity may contain no space, it can not be hot. 

Heat is a movement of particles and only one manifestation of energy.

David Harding
David Harding

The math for a universe in equilibrium as a Schwartzchild  solution is quite simple. The derivation of the universal radius along with the mass and a new derivation of the alpha constant (in universal terms) is available to all at;  http://ufpb.academia.edu/KauaiiHi

Feel free to read and use and to give credit when you do.

Myles Boch
Myles Boch

I think I figured some of this out, and I go further into it on my website, http://realityisadot.blogspot.com/2013/06/how-i-will-control-universe-i-have.html

but you have to really stretch the imagination.  is it possible that the universe and everything in it is intelligent?  if life was dumb, it would keep repeating the same mistakes, therefore, looping.  when light catches up to itself, it has to either keep looking at it's own back, or it must make a conscious decision to break out of that loop.  at the point of singularity, there must be a change, go left, go right, go pi.  but eventually, it will all come back to the same point.  or, the only way it can break free of the loop is to go ahead of itself, creating new universes, evolve into something different.  imagine a single dot, doing that infinitely, going faster than itself, creating a new version of itself in the process.  how many times would it have to do that to create reality that we see?  energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed.  at the point of singularity, that is the change.  it's mind boggling.  

Todd Jech
Todd Jech

I came to this conclusion in 2011 as well by watching docs on the universe and such. Not knowing any mathmatical way to describe the theory if you apply the knowledge of our universe and compare it to what we know about black holes the similarities are endless. 


A big one for me that I cant figure out is our universes speed limit of the speed of light. How does this rule get created? I believe the rule is "inherited" by the parent black hole pulling in all matter including light. We know that even light cannot escape a black hole, perhaps setting the universal speed limit?


If we could achieve a speed faster that could allow us to "escape" our parent black hole...

David Hall
David Hall

I am sorry that my comment had to be two parts. (I must be long winded.)

David Hall
David Hall

One big problem... If the energy being amassed at the point of entry (or theoretical point of existence) of the black hole is so great that it collapses the energy into itself, then that energy may not be destroyed as much as equalized as all of the elements of energy are combined. Although we may not have only positive and negative to contend with, the multitude of other forces (lets call them neutral and maelstrom) that enter and combine with the known energy elements commingle and coalesce into another form of that energy at a different level. I contend that at that point, it does become another level (level up) of energy, and is for the most part, stored until there is and imbalance. And, until that imbalance evens out or catastrophically falls to one side, the black hole drags into itself all things possible to either a point of rebalance or the event horizon of something catastrophic, it releases the gamma bursts.

My summation is that the ‘black hole’ is nothing more than a gas tank, and until it reaches a critical mass of this leveled up material, it keeps filling up.

David Hall
David Hall

I believe that both Mr.Marlow and Mr. Wang are correct to some degree.

Mr. Marlow points out that the escape velocity might be somewhat constant to c, that itself could be a coincidence... but then again, it is not exact (nor will it ever be as the energy diverted and portioned off from entering the black hole would cause a dispensation to the black hole and the alternate universe at an unfair equation [we don't know the veriables]), so it therefore is only something close to c and not true to being a parent speed, only something relative.

Mr. Wang is even closer if you think about your shower drain taking in too much water, once the optimum volume has occurred, you get a back pressure (or lack of vacuum) and for a moment, an equilibrium, which allows a gamma burst to occur as the burst is too much for the black hole to contain.

Gregory Marlow
Gregory Marlow

Take 200 billion galaxies in the universe with 200 billion suns each and you get a mass of the universe of about 8x10^52 kg. Take that mass and a radius of 1.3x10^26 m (14 b.l.y.) and you get an escape velocity equal to something close to c. If the escape velocity really is c this mean that our own universe is a black hole and other black holes should be the same as ours - another universe.

Richard Wang
Richard Wang

Although this is an interesting theory there is a slight problem to it. (Two in fact) There can not be an object that sucks in everything, yet does not release anything. The worm-hole solves that rather nicely. However, if a worm-hole were to ever exist, it would have a very high chance of being unstable and would implode on itself with a slight disturbance, such as the disturbance of matter flowing though it. Another way to solve the matter of not releasing any energy would be the fact that a white-hole (the complete opposite of a black hole) existed. However, a white-hole would be almost impossible to create as black-holes are almost impossible to destroy.

Sorry if I had any outdated info or incorrect. It's been a while.

Kerry Berndt
Kerry Berndt

@Louis Morelli  Math simply converts what is observed into numbers and formulas. Since any biological system is comprised of these components, they too must follow the same rules of physics. While the tissues and brain of humans is extremely complex, there is an underlying math to express everything that happens and why. Just because something is unimaginably difficult for us to calculate does not mean it is immune to the laws and rules of physics. Consciousness and self-awareness also exists in this Universe therefore it too will have an expression to define it. As recently as 500 years ago it was commonly accepted knowledge that the earth was the center of the Universe because they couldn't calculate or prove otherwise. As our technology increases so too does the precision of our calculations which results in a more accurate understanding of our Universe and everything in it making it our best theory. Any other theory that does not have an underlying science to back it up (and ultimately math) is no different than belief or religion. The understanding, testing, and calculations used to define our Universe and the underlying physics is used and reworked all over the world every day and as long as the observed results match predicted results (using math) then it further supports that theory. If it is proven false then that theory is discarded and the next, most likely theory that hasn't been proven false takes its place.

Also, you call the theory of black holes absurd (even though they've been proven and we've studied them not to mention they are seen all over the place including at the center of our galaxy which is further supported by math calculations, you go on to spout some of your own theories that have no underlying math or logic and no control or peer reviewed studies, you might as well be saying that the earth was created in seven days, that aliens travelled to our bodies via astral plane, and that  Klingons are conspiring with Wookies to invade earth as that's about the same level of validity your crackpot absurd argument has.

Next time do everyone a favour and actually learn about science, mathematics, and astrophysics before making a fool of yourself online. I personally have lost juts a little bit more faith in mankind when I see this degree of ignorance (especially online) when we have access all the information known to man with just a few keystrokes. At least before the Internet people had to actually read about a topic somewhere like an encyclopedia before they could even begin to discuss their ideas with others. Now anyone who watches 5 minutes of a documentary (before their ADHD takes over and they start focusing on something else) thinks they are an expert and that mathematics and every scientist on the planet is wrong because they singlehandedly found a better solution their brain has to fill in the blanks on how it thinks something works based on their own faulty logic.

Todd Jech
Todd Jech

@Louis Morelli

a black hole is not just a mathematical theory anymore, our telescopes have captured giant stars orbiting the center of galaxies at millions of miles per hour visually showing the effects of the black holes infinite gravity...

Jarrod Fischer
Jarrod Fischer

@Roland Dorau 

That would be based on grade school physics. You must understand that space-time is warped so much so in and around a black hole, the laws of its physical constraints is altered from its parent laws. 

Todd Jech
Todd Jech

@Myles Boch I believe the universe (black hole) is shaped like a doughnut and we are on the surface (event horizon) of it. It has north and south poles ans spins super fast. When one dies (big rip) it shoots gamma rays which is all the matter from the inner universe turned into pure energy. e+mc squared.

Todd Jech
Todd Jech

@Richard Wang its releasing into a different space time through the white hole, information is never destroyed...

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