Friday , March 5 2021

Will we ever take energy from black holes? A new study says yes

Mysterious objects may one day become the service stations of an advanced space civilization.

From the laws of physics it follows that black holes are an unimaginable source of energy. The unanswered question was whether it could be used.

The pair of American-Chilean scientists in the new study argue that yes, there is a way to use it. Physics allows us to pump energy from blacks, so all we need is enough technological progress.

The research work was published in the scientific journal Physical Review D.

Soup with magnetic fields

According to physicists, black holes are surrounded by a kind of hot “soup” of a plasma that carries a magnetic field.

Luca Comisso from Columbia University in New York and Felipe Asenjo from Adolf Ibáñez University in Chile claim in a new study that magnetic processes in this region accelerate plasma particles in two different directions.

One of the streams escapes from the vicinity of the black hole, while the other stream absorbs the black hole.

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If the absorbed current carries negative energy, the leakage current can provide useful energy.

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“Our study shows that when magnetic field lines are disconnected or connected in the right way, they can accelerate plasma particles to negative energy levels, allowing a large amount of energy to be extracted. of the black hole, “says study author Luca Comisso.

“It’s like a man who would lose weight by eating foods with negative calories. It may seem strange, but it goes into the so-called ergosphere,” says Comisso.

The ergosphere refers to the area around the event horizon: the limit of which nothing escapes, not even the rays of light. Here extreme magnetic processes accelerate plasma particles almost to the speed of light.


Plasma around the black hole event horizon. (Source:

Exceptional efficiency

The co-author of the study, Felipe Asenjo, argues that the large speed difference between the captured plasma and the escaping one allows the potential to obtain large amounts of energy.

“We’ve calculated that this process can achieve 150 percent efficiency, which is much more than any other power plant on Earth,” Asenjo says.

In comparison, the energy conversion efficiency of nuclear power plants is 33 to 37 percent.

“Efficiency in excess of 100% is possible because black holes can filter energy, which is, so to speak, the plasma that comes out of a black hole for free,” the physicist explains.

Understanding …

Asenjo and Comisso say their hypothesis may help astronomers better understand black holes.

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The process described by the pair of American and Chilean scientists can take place naturally in several black holes. At the same time, it can cause radiation eruptions observed around black holes.

“Our refinement of the processes involved in magnetic fields around black holes can help us understand current and future observations of black holes,” says Felipe Asenjo.

… also practical use

According to a couple of physicists, his hypothesis also suggests that black holes may serve as a source of energy for an advanced cosmic civilization.

“For thousands or millions of years, humanity will not need the energy of the stars, it will be enough to use the energy of black holes. It just depends on the maturity of the available technology. From the point of view of physics, nothing prevents the pumping of energy from black holes, “says Luca Comisso.

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