As a massive star collapses into a black hole, it sends out a brilliant SOS signal in the form of ultrabright gamma-ray bursts. Now, scientists have found something very peculiar about those mysterious signals: They seem to reverse time.
Well, sort of.
A new study, published Aug. 13 in The Astrophysical Journal, has found that these gamma-ray bursts are time-reversed, meaning the brilliant light wave is spit out one way and then sent out again in the opposite order.
The researchers said they have no idea what’s causing these time-reversed gamma-ray signals, but they added that the physics around black holes are so strange that nothing can be ruled out.
Gamma-ray bursts are some of the highest-energy explosions ever detected, shining brighter than a million trillion times the output of Earth’s sun, according to NASA.
“Gamma-ray bursts are the most luminous sources known in nature. They produce more energy output than anything else that emits light,” said study lead author Jon Hakkila, an astrophysicist and associate dean of the Graduate School at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.