One of the many phrases that sound like they belong in science fiction rather than science is “wormhole mouth.” It’s basically the opening at either end of one of these theoretical spacetime tunnels, but Mikhail Piotrovich, an astrophysicist at the Central Astronomical Observatory in Saint Petersburg, Russia, goes even further in a new paper he lead-authored and points out that a “wormhole mouth” may actually disguise itself as a supermassive black hole. Not only that, Piotrovich believes he can identify a unique characteristic that exposes the secret identity of a wormhole-in-disguise and it could possibly be a human traversable time portal.
"What surprises me most of all is that no one has proposed this idea before, because it is rather simple."
Piotrovich’s simple idea, described in an interview with Space.com, is that a certain kind of supermassive black hole known as an active galactic nucleus (AGN) is actually a wormhole in hiding. As the name suggests, an AGN sits at the center of an ‘active’ galaxy – one that is actively feeding its supermassive black hole, which is at the center of the AGN. The friction from the gas and dust falling from the accretion disk into the supermassive black hole creates jets of bright light and the combination of the three – disk, jets and black hole – create the AGN.
Or the wormhole mouths?
In an email to Vice, Piotrovich proposes that if supermassive black holes were actually wormhole mouths, it would mean they could be connected by a ‘wormhole throat’ linking them across space and time – allowing time travel. He then proposes that if each wormhole mouth gets entered, a collision is possible in the ‘throat’ which would cause emissions of high-energy gamma rays that are different from the light of the accretion disk.
“Accretion disks of AGN don’t emit gamma radiation, because their temperature is too low for that. Secondly, jets have a very specific radiation pattern, i.e. most of the gamma radiation is directed along the direction of the jet.”
In other words, find the gamma radiation at the center of a galaxy and you’ve found a wormhole mouth! The bad news (other than the fact that wormholes haven’t been proven empirically to exist) is that our own Milky Way is not an active galaxy, which means the closest supermassive black hole is just a supermassive black hole. Moreover, just because a wormhole is big enough for a human or a spaceship to enter, it doesn’t mean it’s safe – after all, an active galactic nucleus still contains a matter-gulping, jet-spewing supermassive black hole.
Even if we are thousands of lifetimes from entering a wormhole mouth and traveling through time, it’s still exciting to know that we’re a little bit closer to finding one. And, for space writers, it’s always a good day when one can write “enter the wormhole mouth and go down the wormhole throat” in a non-science-fiction (albeit somewhat space porn-ish) context.