Scientists think they have come up with a way to detect traversable wormholes. A wormhole is a hypothetical shortcut between two points in spacetime.
A new study outlines a method for detecting a speculative phenomenon that has long captured the imagination of sci-fi fans: wormholes, which form a passage between two separate regions of spacetime.
Such pathways could connect one area of our universe to a different time and, or, place within our universe, or to a different universe altogether. Whether wormholes exist is up for debate. But in a paper published on Oct. 10 in Physical Review D, physicists describe a technique for detecting these bridges.
The method focuses on spotting a wormhole around Sagittarius A*, an object that’s thought to be a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. While there’s no evidence of a wormhole there, it’s a good place to look for one because wormholes are expected to require extreme gravitational conditions, such as those present at supermassive black holes.
In the new paper, scientists write that if a wormhole does exist at Sagittarius A*, nearby stars would be influenced by the gravity of stars at the other end of the passage. As a result, it would be possible to detect the presence of a wormhole by searching for small deviations in the expected orbit of stars near Sagittarius A*.
“If you have two stars, one on each side of the wormhole, the star on our site should feel the gravitational influence of the star that’s on the other side. The gravitational flux will go through the wormhole,” says Dejan Stojkovic, Ph.D., cosmologist and professor of physics at the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences. “So, if you map the expected orbit of a star around Sagittarius A*, you should see deviations from that orbit if there is a wormhole there with a star on the other side.”
Stojkovic conducted the study with first author De-Chang Dai, Ph.D., of Yangzhou University in China and Case Western Reserve University.
“Even if a wormhole is traversable, people and spaceships most likely aren’t going to be passing through,” he says. “Realistically, you would need a source of negative energy to keep the wormhole open, and we don’t know how to do that. To create a huge wormhole that’s stable, you need some magic.”
Stojkovic cautions, however, that while the new method could be used to detect a wormhole if one is there, it will not strictly prove that a wormhole is present.