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Webb telescope to help uncover mysteries of blackholes

Some of the expanse captured by the James Webb telescope.
NASA
/
Getty Images
Some of the expanse captured by the James Webb telescope.

The Webb Telescope will not only help physicists learn more about the creation of galaxies but also the evolution of them so they can predict how our galaxy will look in the future.

The James Webb Telescope, which launched in December 2021, is extremely fast at collecting data, and creates images that have a sharpness never seen before. Maria Rodriguez, assistant professor of physics at Utah State University, said the Webb Telescope will not only help physicists learn more about the creation of galaxies but also the evolution of them so they can predict how our galaxy will look in the future, as well as answer questions about the Big Bang.

“So, there was a time where there was this big bang, and then how we ended up in today's you know, situation in our galaxy, that is our Milky Way. We do have some explanations, but we don't know all the structures that happened between that so galaxy formation and evolution is one of the things the James Webb Telescope tries to understand,” said Rodriquez.

As Rodriguez’s field of work is focused on black holes, the release of Stephan’s Quintet, a cluster of 5 galaxies with supermassive black holes at their center, will help them understand more about how black holes work, and what will happen when two of the galaxies combine alongside the stars in the galaxies.

“But we can see that some of these galaxies are very close to each other two of them, so they're going to merge. And so, they're going to want to become one black hole. But all the rest of the stars and dust that are going to be surrounding them are going to go through a transition that is very chaotic, and very violent. And so there, there's temperature, there's going to be chemical reactions, it's going to be like a storm, at the end, it will become a new galaxy. Where these two supermassive black holes would have become a bigger only one object,” said Rodriquez.

Black holes have a strong event horizon, which means it attracts objects to it with such force that not even light can escape the pull of them. There are many speculations on how Einstein's theory of general relativity plays a part in their existence. Where does the space matter go? Rodriguez offers some solutions that include white holes, which are similar to black holes, but unlike black holes which swallow particles and other materials, white holes have jets coming out of them that expel matter into space. This then poses the question of how materials travel from the black hole to the white hole. It’s a mystery that scientists have been trying to solve, one that Rodriquez is attempting to answer.

“...there are other objects called wormholes, that is that you could connect. So, matter would travel through this wormhole and would be emanated the entire time from this White Hole. So, these are solutions of Einstein's theory of general relativity. But that doesn't mean that that we are going to be able to see them and detect them. Currently, there's no there's no data that supports the idea that potentially there are white holes in the universe or wormholes in the universe.”

Rodriguez said in some sense, her work is science fiction, but the difference between fiction and science is that science has equations and rules that need to be followed. She said wormholes and white holes need to be measured and found. According to Rodriguez, these are all solutions to Einstein's theory of general relativity, but they don’t have evidence, yet, that they actually exist.

According to Rodriquez, this is a golden age for science and astrophysicists, as all of the years developing new technologies are finally coming together. She encourages students who are interested in this field to look for opportunities because they are out there if they look hard enough. With Utah Public Radio, I’m Katherine Flores.