National Geographic News
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."

Ken Puckett
Ken Puckett

Might this be the reason people experience Deja Vu? We're just repeating our same lives over and over in the newly created parallel universes. We die and wait for the next fecund paradigm to begin our same lives over again. I want a different one.....

Adrian Glew
Adrian Glew

Whilst I agree with the conclusion reached by Poplawski that our universe is just one of an infinite number, rather than viewing black holes as wormholes that create these universes, I would like to suggest that they emerge from Einstein's point of singularity. For, when we look back in time to the formation of our own universe, all the evidence points to a Big Bang when space, time and mass expanded exponentially from a single point i.e. 'the other side of a black hole'. Thus, each black hole could be seen as the progenitor of a new universe forming explosively beyond the point of singularity in all directions of space/time like synapses forming in our brain.

Chelsey Mcquitty
Chelsey Mcquitty

Very cool ides here. I wonder what alternate realities would like in regards to the Earth alone. I'm also kind of wondering if things, in regards to the setup of the universe, would be the same or different. Copies would seem strange, like we're all one big science project to see how things go with certain factors. Hope some of this is figured out in my lifetime, mysteries are nerve racking.

Louis S
Louis S

 I just thought up this idea while researching black holes and  decided to look up if anyone had said anything similar before me. My idea seems very similar to this one, possibly identical, but I do not know, as this article is short and likely does not describe all the details involved in this theory.

My theory:

Black holes are their own universe. I will call OUR observable universe "U1" (Universe 1).

Our "Big Bang" would simply be the formation of U1 in the parent universe, due to a star collapsing or however black holes are truly formed.

We'll call our "parent" universe "U0".

All of the matter inside U1 is from what U1 has "eaten" while floating through U0.

While inside U1, the universe would appear to expand very rapidly (as I believe we see it doing). Because of how we believe black holes effect space-time, while in U0, U1 would appear to just be floating through space like any other black hole. 

It's possible U1 is a super-massive black hole, but who knows? We would need data from inside another black hole universe to compare the rates of expansion to determine the sizes comparatively. Or we'd need the data of our universe's rate of expansion compared to the rate of "eating" black holes in our universe do, all in relation to rate of distortion in space/time between our universe and the black holes we can observe.

While any beings observing the black hole (U1) float through the space inside of U0 would see it only devour 1 star every X amount of years, the beings (us) inside of U1 would see their universe expanding very rapidly because the time inside of U1 is moving much faster than the time in U0. Possibly because time, like space, is also compressed inside of a black hole.

All of this coincides with the Big Bang theory as well as calling for multiple universes as many others have done before me.

My theory is different in that I do not think there are "white holes", but that the matter U1 absorbs is scattered throughout the entirety of the edge of our universe, in much the same way that we believe matter may be spread out along the event horizon of a black hole. This also explains why we see black holes as black and devoid of light; All that matter and light is pulled in to our universe and can not escape once beyond the event horizon (edge of OUR universe), so anyone outside would not be able to see anything inside, assuming their laws of physics work like ours.

Whether or not there are an infinite number of universes inside an infinite number of black holes is anyone's guess and I will not pretend to know any of this to be fact. 

I'm getting tired and bored though so I'll end it here.

This is simply a theory based on my observations and my research of the theories of others much smarter than myself, as their theories were and as all theories are. I welcome discussion on this topic and invite you to email me with any thoughts on the topic at

Side idea:

If we could find the difference in the rate of flow of time inside a black hole compared to ours, we could compare it to ours and create a mathematical formula. The data would be required to determine the size:time distortion ratio and a second black holes readings would be required to see if the formula holds true and could be considered a constant.

That might allow us to communicate one-way by sending radio waves (or something similarly manipulable) of a super-high frequency IN TO black holes (other universes), based on the formula, but I'm getting ahead of myself and that type of communication would be almost pointless as we'd never know if anyone received it unless time moved so fast inside that the beings discover a way to communicate back. But even then, by the time we responded to their message, they would probably no longer even exist, all depending on how fast their time was moving, of course.

Paul R.
Paul R.

Interesting premise and unfalsifiable at this point. But still the best I have read recently. 

The fact is our universe is expanding from a Big Bang event is now a given and this event possibly started from a White Hole sounds plausible

It raises the question of our universe expanding and where this ends

Does our universe loop back on itself disappearing down the Black Holes that have formed?

Sounds like remarkably like human mythology and the higher consciousness theories.  

Just saying ... 

Anthony Foster
Anthony Foster

Interesting, I used to have this thought when I first started learning about Black Holes. Wow.

Bart Barton
Bart Barton

I must also note that seeking to understand these concepts is freedom from the stressful tit for tat goings on of society.  In fact, the more I can delve into the why and how of our existence, the more I feel secure in my being.  This knowledge satisfies lifelong yearnings and lends an immortality to my experience.

Bart Barton
Bart Barton

I'd love to hear someone much smarter than myself expound upon this.  Does each black hole in our universe potentially contain a universe full of black holes that also contain universes (which would be infinite?)

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;

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,

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.

Todd Jech
Todd Jech

@Adrian Glew exactly, the singularity is the first instance of space time for the new universe (on the inside) and the core of hyper gravity thats created during hyper novae (on the outside)...

Todd Jech
Todd Jech

@Louis S I agree with most of what you've said here with some thoughts to add. I dont think you can compare what a black hole looks like from our (on earth) point of view and the universe we reside in visually. As we are on the surface of the event horizon like you stated and the perspective from the "inside" would not be there because its a hidden dimension to us. 

I always think of Superman where the villains are stuck on the plate of glass floating in space.

As far as the white hole. I would use that term to describe the inverse of a black hole because I picture the gravity being so extreme that the particles collapse on themselves and pack in so tightly they become a singularity and basically have no where to go after that and are forced "inside out". Perhaps even the explosion that neutron stars have as they detonate and become black holes is that "inside" universe Big Bang...

The only thing that gets out is Dark Matter!

Louis S
Louis S

@Louis S This may also explain quantum entanglement. Particles may be joined together at a quantum level because in U0 they were from the same bit of matter, but in U1, they have been spread out across the universe and are in a piece of all (or at least a lot) of different bits of matter.

Todd Jech
Todd Jech

@Bart Barton that is the theory, every time a black hole is created that is the Big Bang for universe "inside" the parent black hole...

right so then you also have that whole infinity thing again heh...

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...

Bart Barton
Bart Barton

@Kerry Berndt It is not appropriate to incinerate another for their lack of understanding (if that is that case).  No, the superior move would be to empathize and show some leadership.  In this case, you've attracted more negativity to yourself, in an infinite loop.  And that is not good, might I suggest a complete reworking of your social skills?

Kerry Berndt
Kerry Berndt

@Bart Barton A negative comment begets a negative response. You weren't the one that made the comment, so the response wasn't directed at you; there is no need to take personal offence.

I agree that ignorance of facts is understandable,however, the OP was incinerating science and mathematics which is unacceptable even if one doesn't understand it.

That being said perhaps I was a bit harsh, I'm just tired of seeing ignorant comments on every article and documentary I watch online.

Feed the World

See blogs, stories, photos, and news »

Latest From Nat Geo

See more photos »