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Ask Ethan: Do Merging Black Holes Create An Information-Loss Paradox?

5 Jan 2019, 15:01 UTC
Ask Ethan: Do Merging Black Holes Create An Information-Loss Paradox?
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A computer simulation, utilizing the advanced techniques developed by Kip Thorne and many others, allows us to tease out the predicted signals arising in gravitational waves generated by merging black holes. The question of what happens to the information encoded on the surfaces of the event horizons, though, is still a fascinating mystery. (WERNER BENGER, CC BY-SA 4.0)When two black holes merge together, about 5% of their mass gets lost. Where does that information go?Do merging black holes lose information? They absolutely must, according to General Relativity and the known laws of physics. Take two black holes, merge them together, and they lose mass. For the ten black hole-black hole mergers LIGO and Virgo have seen so far, each one has lost mass in the process: about 5% of the total, on average. So where does the information that was encoded by that mass go? That’s what our Patreon supporter Pierre Fransson wants to know, asking:When black holes merge they [lose] energy through gravitational waves. Does this pose the same problem as Hawking radiation does, with respect to loss of information? Or is the information on what has gone into the black hole somehow encoded into the gravitational wave? And ...

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