Black holes have always been a topic of great interest to scientists. Although no one has seen one direct, we're absolutely certain they exist. These mysterious whirlpools rip through space and time and suck up anything that gets too close. None of the matter that goes into a black hole can escape, and light can't either. Now, scientists have discovered the Earth equivalent of black holes, and they're in the Atlantic ocean.
Scientists at ETH Zurich and the University of Miami studied large eddies of ocean water, some of which measured up to 150 kilometers in diameter. These eddies constantly rotate and drift through the Atlantic Ocean. The scientists wanted to find a way to define the boundaries of each whirlpool. By looking at satellite imagery and coming up with a mathematical calculation, they learned to pinpoint where each water eddy begins and ends. That led to an even greater discovery: the scientists soon realized that the whirlpools were mathematically the same as black holes in space. This means that the whirlpools in the ocean also suck up nearby matter, which cannot escape.
In a black hole in space, light does not go into the hole, but bends around it in a loop, circling it. The ocean whirlpools did the same thing with water: the water does not get sucked into the hole, but ends up orbiting the structure. Scientists discovered seven of these eddies of water that acted like this: each drifting through the ocean for a year without losing a single drop of water.
Studying these whirling vortices of water could give us more insight into what happens with black holes in space. But these large whirlpools also serve a function that could benefit us on our own planet: because they transport warm, salty water north from the equatorial regions, they could provide some balance to the impact of global warming in the oceans.
Via ETH Zurich