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The Question

(Submitted October 30, 2001)

Given that the universe may have started from a singularity in a Big Bang, and that it seems that an awful lot of the universe is going to end up at the singularity inside a Black Hole, is it possible there is a connection between the two?

I've seen the depiction of Space-Time as a rubber sheet with each mass causing a distortion to it -(recall Homer Simpson looking into the deep distortion caused by a Black Hole?) - Is it possible for the singularity of a sufficiently massive Black Hole to distort Space-Time to the extent where it ruptures, the singularity exploding into the void beyond giving rise to another Big Bang and the start of another universe?

The Answer

Although the Big Bang also represents a spacetime singularity, it is not really a black hole. Actually, the Big Bang has more of a resemblance to the time-inverse of black holes: white holes (that may not actually exist in nature). But the Big Bang singularity is not really a white hole either -- there are technical differences in the natures of their event horizons and their connection to the rest of the universe and its constituents.

For a more detailed, and somewhat technical, explanation please see
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/BlackHoles/universe.html.

It is also not necessarily the case that "an awful lot of the universe is going to end up at the singularity inside a Black Hole," since the universe could very well be Open rather than Closed and simply expand forever (in fact the latest evidence seems to point in that direction).

The Big Bang included all of spacetime and so does not represent a rupturing of some space in which it is embedded (that is, there is no "void beyond" the universe), and there is no danger of supermassive black holes causing any sort of miniature Big Bangs although they are responsible for the super-energetic phenomena know as quasars.

-- Michael Loewenstein and Amy Fredericks for "Ask an Astrophysicist"

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