How to spot a wormhole: Look at the tiny, strange movements of stars

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Strange movements by stars could provide proof of the existence of space-time tunnels known as wormholes, a new study suggests.

Wormholes are mysterious elements that have existed for many years in science-fiction novels and movies, but they have never been spotted in reality.

“If you have two stars, one on each side of the wormhole, the star on our side should feel the gravitational influence of the star that’s on the other side. The gravitational flux will go through the wormhole,” said Dejan Stojkovic, cosmologist and professor of physics in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, in a statement. “So if you map the expected orbit of a star around Sagittarius A*, you should see deviations from that orbit if there is a wormhole there with a star on the other side.”

An artist’s concept illustrates a supermassive black hole. A new theoretical study outlines a method that could be used to search for wormholes in the background of supermassive black holes.
An artist’s concept illustrates a supermassive black hole. A new theoretical study outlines a method that could be used to search for wormholes in the background of supermassive black holes.

In their paper published earlier this month in Physical Review D, scientists write that it would be possible to determine the presence of a wormhole by looking for small changes in the predicted orbit of stars near Sagittarius A*.

Still, Stojkovic also explained that if wormholes are ever discovered, they won't be the kind envisioned in films like "A Wrinkle in Time."

“Even if a wormhole is traversable, people and spaceships most likely aren’t going to be passing through,” he said. “Realistically, you would need a source of negative energy to keep the wormhole open, and we don’t know how to do that. To create a huge wormhole that’s stable, you need some magic.”

The scientist also explained that collecting data over a longer period of time on S2, a star that's been observed orbitting Sagittarius A*, would allow researchers to make a determination about the presence of a wormhole. These advances could happen within one or two decades.

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