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Has Science Found The First White Hole?
The universe is littered with the weird and wonderful and GRB 060614 could turn out to be one of the weirdest and most wonderful of them all.
GRB 060614, which we’ll call Ralph to smooth things along, was a gamma-ray burst with some very puzzling properties detected by Nasa’s Swift satellite on June 14, 2006.
Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the universe. They usually come in two flavours: long bursts, which are normally caused by the sudden release of energy that occurs when a collapsing star forms a black hole in a massive supernova event, and short bursts, which occur when two neutron stars – the superdense remains of dead stars – collide.
Ralph’s gamma ray burst lasted 102 seconds, which put it firmly in the long burst camp. But there was a problem: no supernovae had been recorded anywhere in Ralph’s vicinity. At the time, its discoverers were baffled, and exclaimed: ‘This is brand new territory, we have no theories to guide us.
Now, five years later, a theory has emerged: it could be a white hole. A white hole is a theoretical beastie that exists as a set of equations that were a by-product of Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is basically a black hole in reverse. If a black hole is an object from which nothing can escape, then a white hole is an object into which nothing can enter – it can only radiate energy and matter.