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"We know very well that black holes can be formed by the collapse of large stars, or as we have seen recently, the merger of two neutron stars," said Savvas Koushiappas, an associate professor of physics at Brown University and coauthor of the study with Avi Loeb from Harvard University. "But it's been hypothesized that there could be black holes that formed in the very early universe before stars existed at all. That's what we're addressing with this work."
The idea is that shortly after the Big Bang, quantum mechanical fluctuations led to the density distribution of matter that we observe today in the expanding universe. It's been suggested that some of those density fluctuations might have been large enough to result in black holes peppered throughout the universe. These so-called primordial black holes were first proposed in the early 1970s by Stephen Hawking and collaborators but have never been detected -- it's still not clear if they exist at all.
For example, primordial black holes fall into a category of entities known as MACHOs, or Massive Compact Halo Objects. Some scientists have proposed that dark matter -- the unseen stuff that is thought to comprise most of the mass of the universe -- may be made of MACHOs in the form of primordial black holes. A detection of primordial black holes would bolster that idea, while a non-detection would cast doubt upon it.
The only other possible explanation for black hole mergers at redshifts greater than 40 is that the universe is "non-Gaussian." In the standard cosmological model, matter fluctuations in the early universe are described by a Gaussian probability distribution. A merger detection could mean matter fluctuations deviate from a Gaussian distribution.
So here we have the theoretical implication that Black Holes can be related to Dark Matter.
Primordial Black Holes
Primordial black holes are hypothetical black holes that formed under conditions of extreme density in the very early universe. Studying primordial black holes provides a probe into both high energy physics and cosmology, setting limits on several cosmological parameters.
A primordial black hole is a hypothetical type of black hole formed during the high-density, inhomogeneous phase of the Big Bang due to the gravitational collapse of important density fluctuations. The concept was first proposed in 1971 by Stephen Hawking, who introduced the idea that black holes may exist that are smaller than stellar mass, and are thus not formed by stellar gravitational collapse. Several mechanisms have been proposed to produce the inhomogeneities at the origin of primordial black hole formation—such as that of cosmic inflation, reheating, or phase transitions.
Physics cannot describe what happens inside a black hole. There, current theories break down, and general relativity collides with quantum mechanics, creating what's called a singularity or a point at which the equations spit out infinities.
But some advanced physics theories are trying to bridge the gap between general relativity and quantum mechanics, understand what's truly going on inside the densest objects in the universe. Recently, scientists applied a theory called loop quantum gravity to the case of black holes and found that inside these objects, space and time may be extremely curved, but that gravity there is not infinite, as general relativity predicts.