According to this article on New Scientist, some astrophysicists have put forth a radical new theory that would explain the longstanding quantum mysteries of dark energy, dark matter, and gamma ray bursts, but would also prove that black holes don't exist! (It would also screw up one of my old Geek Trivia columns, but that's a small price to pay. Compared to this, even the discovery of liquid water on a Saturnian moon seems pedestrian.)
I'm not an astrophysicist, but as well as I can follow, the theory goes
something like this: When a star collapses into what we thought was a
black hole--violating all kinds of quantum mechanics in a way that can
only be justified with the technically unsatisfying "quantum
singularity" tag--the surface of the star actually takes on some rare
attributes of crystal superconductors. The star forms an outer shell
where all quantum motion slows down to a near-stop, looking for all the
world like a black hole with an event horizon that stops time. But
quantum motion isn't stopped, it's just moving so slowly we can't
perceive it. This solves the whole "black holes break time" problem in
Inside the star shell is a matter vacuum filled instead with bizarre
energies. The physicists call this a "dark energy star." All the matter
that falls into the dark energy star passes through the shell and isconverted into something new--antigravity!
These stars now pump out the accelerating force that is making galaxies
move away from each other, precisely counter to what we'd expect if
gravity was merely slowing or reversing the outward force of the Big
Bang. This completely explains the Hubble Expansion.
It also is a more rational explanation for what happens to energy and
matter that drops into a black hole. Instead of the "disappears from
our universe" excuse that breaks the basic rule of "no matter is ever
created or destroyed, merely changed" rule, matter and energy are changed into antigravity.
Finally, based on the physicists' math, it's very likely that
super-small versions of these hypermassive dark energy stars were
formed shortly after the Big Bang, thus accounting for all the
undetected "dark matter" that must exist for all the observed
gravitational behavior of galaxies to be explained. The universe is
brimming with hidden stars, holding galaxies together while pushing the
universe apart--and solving all the bizarre problems that the
placeholder idea of a "black hole" could never address. I sure hope an
idea this cool turns out to be right!