from the no-rush-though dept.
A remarkable prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity -- the theory that connects space, time and gravity -- is that rotating black holes have enormous amounts of energy available to be tapped.
[...] [Now] physicists Luca Comisso of Columbia University and Felipe Asenjo of the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Chile have found a new way to extract energy from black holes by breaking and rejoining magnetic field lines near the event horizon, the point at which nothing, not even light, can escape a black hole's gravitational pull.
"Black holes are commonly surrounded by a hot 'soup' of plasma particles that carry a magnetic field," said Comisso. "Our theory shows that when magnetic field lines disconnect and reconnect in just the right way, they can accelerate plasma particles to negative energies, and large amounts of black hole energy can be extracted."
The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded research results could allow astronomers to better estimate the spin of black holes and possibly discover a source of energy for the needs of an advanced civilization, Comisso said.
[...] "Thousands or millions of years from now, humanity might be able to survive around a black hole without harnessing energy from stars," Comisso said. "It is essentially a technological problem. If we look at the physics, there is nothing that prevents it."
Luca Comisso, Felipe A. Asenjo. Magnetic reconnection as a mechanism for energy extraction from rotating black holes, Physical Review D (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.103.023014)