Quantum tornado provides gateway to understanding black holes | Science & Technology

Scientists have for the first time created a giant quantum vortex to mimic a black hole in superfluid helium that has allowed them to see in greater detail how analogue black holes behave and interact with their surroundings.

Research led by the University of Nottingham, in collaboration with King’s College London and Newcastle University, have created a novel experimental platform: a quantum tornado. They have created a giant swirling vortex within superfluid helium that is chilled to the lowest possible temperatures. Through the observation of minute wave dynamics on the superfluid’s surface, the research team has shown that these quantum tornados mimic gravitational conditions near rotating black holes. The research has been published today in Nature.

Lead author of the paper, Dr Patrik Svancara from the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Nottingham explains: “Using superfluid helium has allowed us to study tiny surface waves in greater detail and accuracy than with our previous experiments in water. As the viscosity of superfluid helium is extremely small, we were able to meticulously investigate their interaction with the superfluid tornado and compare the findings with our own theoretical projections.”

The team constructed a bespoke cryogenic system capable of containing several litres of superfluid helium at temperatures lower than -271 °C. At this temperature liquid helium acquires unusual quantum properties. These properties typically hinder the formation of giant vortices in other quantum fluids like ultracold atomic gases or quantum fluids of light, this system demonstrates how the interface of superfluid helium acts as a stabilizing force for these objects.

Dr Svancara continues: “Superfluid helium contains tiny objects called quantum vortices, which tend to spread apart from each other. In our set-up, we’ve managed to confine tens of thousands of these quanta in a compact object resembling a small tornado, achieving a vortex flow…

 read more www.sciencedaily.com

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