Scientists find ‘black holes’ at sea: The ocean whirlpools from which nothing can ever escape – not even water

Read Time:3 Minute, 46 Second

  • Eddies  are so tightly surrounded by water paths  that nothing can escape
  • Scientists  have found they are mathematically equivalent to black holes
  • The  findings may help explain the spread of pollution in the world’s  oceans
  • It could  also help better determine how eddies effect ocean  temperatures

By  Ellie Zolfagharifard

PUBLISHED: 12:26 EST, 23  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 15:17 EST, 23 September 2013

They are impossible to see, but astronomers  are convinced they exist.

Black holes are tears in the fabric of  space-time that pull in everything that comes too close to them.

Nothing that gets sucked in can escape, not  even light.

Now, scientists believe they have found  features of these black holes here on Earth, in the southern Atlantic  Ocean.

Scroll down for video…


A black hole is a tear in the fabric of space-time that  pulls in everything that comes too close to it. Nothing that gets sucked in can  escape, not even light


Some of the largest ocean eddies in this  region are mathematically equivalent to the mysterious black holes of space,  according to researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Miami.

This means that they do the same thing with  water, that black holes do with light.

These huge ocean whirlpools are so tightly  surrounded by circular water paths that nothing caught up in them  escapes.

Their numbers are reportedly on the rise in  the Southern Ocean, increasing the northward transport of warm and salty  water.

Eddies in gulf stream 

Scientists believe they have found features of black  holes in space here on Earth in ocean eddies. The reflected sunlight in this  image illuminates eddies in the Gulf Stream current



An ocean eddy is a swirling whirlpool  surrounded by circular water paths in which nothing that is caught up in them  can escape.

Eddies can spin off from major ocean current  systems and may last for several months at a time

Ocean eddies are typically bigger than a city  and contain a billion tonnes of swirling water.

They take a few days to rotate, drifting  slowly and carrying warm and cold water around the ocean.

Despite their importance in driving  large-scale ocean circulations, eddies are not fully represented in climate  models like those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  (IPCC).

Scientists believe these ocean eddies could  moderate the negative impact of melting sea ice in a warming climate.

But up until now they’ve been unable to  quantify this impact because the exact boundaries of these swirling water bodies  have remained a mystery.

George Haller, professor of Nonlinear  Dynamics at ETH Zurich, and Francisco Beron-Vera, research Professor of  Oceanography at the University of Miami, believe they have now solved this  puzzle.

Using mathematical models, they isolated  water-transporting eddies from a sequence of satellite observations.

They did this by detecting their rotating  edges, which the scientists found were indicators of the whirlpool  within.

VIDEO: This  video from Nasa shows eddies forming  throughout the south Atlantic

Ocean eddies 

Some of the largest ocean eddies in the world are  mathematically equivalent to the mysterious black holes of space, according to  researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Miami


To their surprise, these eddies turned out to  be mathematically equivalent to black holes.

At a critical distance, a light beam no  longer spirals into the black hole.

Instead, it dramatically bends and comes back  to its original position, forming a circular orbit.

A barrier surface formed by closed light  orbits is called a ‘photon sphere’ in Einstein’s theory of  relativity.

The researchers discovered similar closed  barriers around select ocean eddies.

In these barriers, fluid particles move  around in closed loops – similar to the path of light in a photon sphere.

And as in a black hole, nothing can escape  from the inside of these loops, not even water.

The researchers identified seven Agulhas  Rings of the black-hole type, which transported the same body of water without  leaking for almost a year.

‘Mathematicians have been trying to  understand such peculiarly coherent vortices in turbulent flows for a very long  time’, explained Haller.

Their results are expected to help in  resolving a number of oceanic puzzles, ranging from climate-related questions to  the spread of environmental pollution patterns.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Categories: Health Technology News

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Average Rating

5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
%d bloggers like this: