Areas of the universe could be erased by black holes in the distant future, a scientist has warned.
Black holes are caused when stars collapse, creating a well of intensive gravity from which nothing can escape – not even light.
Black holes can grow by absorbing and merging with other black holes – while astronomers believe a supermassive black hole exists at the very centre of the Milky Way.
German scientist, Dr Alessandro Sfondrini, from the Institute for Theoretical Physics, has now shared her theory that one day the galaxy will be consumed by black holes – which will then ‘burn out’ and disappear, leaving nothing but radiation behind.
The Express reports she explained her rationale via the YouTube channel, Kurzgesagt.
In the video, the German science show explained: “Black holes radiate their mass away, like a hot pot on a stove losing its water as steam.
“This is called Hawking radiation. Black holes constantly lose an extremely tiny amount of their mass, a process that’s unbelievably slow.
“This is happening constantly and unstoppably, and as it goes on it speeds up more and more.
“In the far, far future, when the last star in the universe has been dead for trillions of years, black holes will become tinier and tinier until they evaporate and disappear, leaving behind just a bit of radiation.
“But this is a problem because in the process of disappearing black holes might delete something fundamental – information.”
The video went on to explain how everything in the universe is made up of information – and that black holes by nature destroy this information.
The video explained: “According to the theory of quantum mechanics, information is indestructible.
“It might change shape, but it can never be lost – for example, if you burn a piece of paper, you get ash. That ash will never become paper again.
“But, if you were able to carefully collect every single carbon atom in the ash, and measured the exact properties of the smoke and heat radiating from the fire, you could, in theory, reconstruct the paper.
“The information of the paper is still in the universe. It's not lost.”
The theory adds: “This is where black holes trip us up. Information tells us how things are different from each other and what used to be what.
“Black holes do the opposite – they take different things and make them the same. They destroy information.
“This creates the information paradox, and this is a serious problem – it’s fundamental for all our laws of physics that information can never be lost. Existing, not existing. Without information, everything is relative.”
It might not be time to panic, however, as the report also highlights that a sun like that of our own solar system would take: "ten thousand billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion years to lose 0.0000001% of its mass.”
The sun in our solar system is believed to be a little over 4 billion years old.