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Enigmatic behaviour of black holes is usually locked away beyond the grasp of direct observation. Yet, their nature is not entirely elusive to experimental enquiry, as scientists can carefully engineer physical systems called gravity simulators, which can probe their mysteries indirectly. In an article that has been published today in Nature, researchers from the University of Nottingham report on a remarkable leap in this endeavour, by creating a novel experimental platform: a quantum tornado. This extraordinary phenomenon manifests as a giant swirling vortex within superfluid helium, a fascinating substance chilled to the lowest possible temperatures. Through the observation of minute wave dynamics on the superfluid’s surface, the research team has shown that these quantum tornados mimic gravitational conditions near rotating black holes. This pivotal advancement establishes superfluid helium as a sophisticated simulator for finite-temperature quantum field theories in the complex realm of curved spacetimes.
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