An international team of scientists have crunched the numbers and discovered something straight out of science-fiction: They claim that the center of our galaxy could host a giant wormhole. Despite what some media outlets are saying about the study, the results are entirely unfounded according to scientific experts.
So, as much as some of us might want to shoot through a wormhole like in Nolan’s latest film “Interstellar,” it’s never going to happen. At least not from the center of our galaxy the way the team suggests in their paper, which was recently published in the journal Annals of Physics.
Wormholes are cosmic portals that some physicists theorize can connect distant corners of the same universe together or link one universe to an entirely separate, parallel universe. They form when extremely heavy objects create a well in the fabric of space time that is deep enough to reach another side of the universe.
If they existed, wormholes could help humans travel to or communicate with parts of the universe that are millions of light years away that we might otherwise never reach, unless we developed faster-than-light spaceships.
The team discusses a specific type of wormhole called a Morris-Thorne wormhole. This wormhole is what theorists call a traversable wormhole, which means you can enter either end and fall out the other side. In comparison, the original wormhole — called a Rosen-Einstein bridge and featured in the film “Thor” — is unstable and closes up, so once you get through, there’s no going back. (Unless you have someone who can open the wormhole up again, like Heimdall in “Thor”.)
Luckily for the characters in “Interstellar,” the wormhole was stable and traversable, which is no surprise since the science consultant of the film, Kip Thorne, first predicted the possibility of traversable wormholes with his graduate student Mike Morris in 1988.
What makes Morris-Thorne wormholes stable, and therefore traversable, is that instead of closing off, like a Rosen-Einstein bridge, they are held open. Holding them open is what theorists have dubbed “exotic matter,” a hypothetical, mysterious form of matter that does not follow the regular laws of physics.
Dark matter is one possible example of exotic matter and there’s strong evidence to suggest that our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is encased in a massive dark matter bubble, called a dark halo. Astronomers have found that in most spiral galaxies, including the Milky Way, dark matter is most dense at the center of the dark halo.
And in this latest paper, the team suggests that the amount of dark matter at the center of our galaxy’s dark halo could have enough density to create a giant wormhole. Last year, some of the same authors published earlier results indicating that wormholes could exist at other points in the dark halo.
“This result is an important compliment to the earlier result, thereby confirming the possible existence of wormholes in most of the spiral galaxies,” the team state in a pre-print of their latest paper on arXiv.org.
But some experts are sceptical:
Matthew Buckley, a theoretical physicist at Rutgers University, told Business Insider in a series of tweets that exotic material necessary to hold open a Morris-Thorne wormhole at the center of our galaxy “would not have the necessary properties to be dark matter.” He goes on to say that some of the team’s work “seems very suspect.”
MIT theoretical astrophysicist, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, also speculates the paper’s approach saying that the solution the team provides would not form a stable wormhole:
Astrophysicist, Katie Mack had something to say about the paper, as well:
Another theoretical physicist, Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, told NBC News: “My understanding of wormholes is that we have no idea how to make them stable and traversable without exotic unknown forms of energy,” he told NBC News in an email, “so any discussion of traversable wormholes as realistic travel devices is highly speculative at best.”