Professor overturns understanding on black holes

Dr. Gaurav Khanna, Ph.D. publishes a paper that sheds new light on space’s most mysterious phenomena

Professor Khanna

On March 29, 2018, the Physical Review journal is set to publish an article by Professors Gaurav Khanna (Physics) of UMass Dartmouth and Lior Burko of Georgia Gwinnett College that demonstrates the existence of extreme black holes that until now were thought to be theoretical and unobservable. "These findings could open the door to new paths of research related to the nature of the universe," said Khanna.

Extreme black holes differ from traditional black holes because they have the fastest possible spin allowed by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Khanna and Burko’s research upends conventional wisdom on extreme black holes, which presumed these objects were unstable, and thus did not exist in nature. Through computational research, Khanna and Burko found that extreme black holes are stable and may someday be observed by gravitational-wave observatories.

Dr. Khanna has a long history of studying these fascinating cosmic objects. In 2015, the universe's gravitational waves were observed for the very first time by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). This led to a Novel Prize in Physics for the three leaders of the LIGO project. The LIGO project is a collaboration of over 1,000 researchers from more than 20 countries. The UMass Dartmouth Physics Department has had a long relationship with the LIGO project extending over a decade. Physics majors have participated in summer internships at the LIGO laboratory, and others have officially joined the LIGO collaboration later in their careers.

One of the Nobel winners visited the university in 2016 to discuss his work and Dr. Khanna presented a seminar on this groundbreaking discovery.

UMass Dartmouth has a strong focus on the cosmos. Recently, astronaut alumnus Scott Tingle (College of Engineering '87) participated in a satellite downlink event where he answered questions live from the International Space Station.  This was preceded by a faculty panel that discussed various perspectives on life in space.

The full article co-authored by Dr. Khanna can be found here.


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