Monday, January 10, 2011

Physicists create sonic black hole in the lab

Physicists create sonic black hole in the lab: The researchers created the sonic black hole in a Bose-Einstein condensate made of 100,000 rubidium atoms slowed to their lowest quantum state in a magnetic trap. This cold cluster of atoms acts like a single, large quantum mechanical object. In order to transform this condensate into a sonic black hole, the scientists had to find a way to accelerate some of the condensate to supersonic speeds so that the condensate would contain some regions of supersonic flow and some regions of subsonic flow.
The scientists achieved this acceleration by shining a large-diameter laser on the condensate in such a way as to create a steplike potential and a harmonic potential. When the condensate crosses the “step” in the steplike potential, the condensate accelerates to supersonic speeds. The scientists demonstrated that the condensate could accelerate to more than an order of magnitude faster than the speed of sound.

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