Exploring A New Theory About Dark Energy’s Origins

25:15 minutes

a computer rendering of a black hole showing the intense bend of orange-shaded gas curving in a ring-like shape of a large ominous black space. there is no escape
A rendering of a black hole’s extreme gravitational field redirecting and distorting light. Astrophysicists speculate that these cosmic behemoths could be tied to another enigmatic entity: dark energy. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeremy Schnittman

Black holes remain one of the great mysteries of the universe. Another enigma? Dark energy. Little is known about this concept, aside from the belief that dark energy accelerates the expansion of the universe. These are two of the most mind-bending concepts in physics.

There’s a new theory that brings together black holes and dark energy into one mind-bending solution: research led by the University of Hawai’i at Manoa posits that dark energy could actually come from supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies. 

If true, this would be a massive breakthrough in what we know about astrophysics. But many experts in the field have reservations about this idea. Two of those experts join Ira to talk about this theory, and other recent black hole breakthroughs: Janna Levin, PhD, author of “Black Hole Blues” and “Black Hole Survival Guide,” and a physics and astronomy professor at Barnard College in New York City, and Feryal Özel, a professor and chair of physics at Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Further Reading

  • Learn more about black holes and dark energy on LiveScience.
  • Read more about new research out of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa pointing to the connection between dark energy and black holes.

Segment Guests

Janna Levin

Janna Levin is author of Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space (Knopf, 2016) and a physics and astronomy professor at Barnard College in New York, New York.

Feryal Ozel

Feryal Ozel is a professor and chair of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.

Segment Transcript

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Meet the Producers and Host

About Kathleen Davis

Kathleen Davis is a producer at Science Friday, which means she spends the week brainstorming, researching, and writing, typically in that order. She’s a big fan of stories related to strange animal facts and dystopian technology.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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