Stephen Hawking's prediction that black holes should radiate like black bodies has several important consequences, including the possibility of the detection of small (∼10 15 g) black holes created in the very early universe. The detection of such primordial black holes (PBHs) would be an important discovery, not only confirming Hawking's theory, but also providing valuable insights into the history of the early universe. A search through 5.5 years of archival data from the Whipple Atmospheric Cerenkov Telescope is made for TeV gamma-ray bursts on 1, 3, and 5 s timescales. On the basis of a null result from this direct search for PBH evaporations, an upper limit of 1.08 × 10 6 pc -3 yr -1 (99% CL) is set on the PBH evaporation rate in the local region of the galaxy, assuming the Standard Model of particle physics. This is more than a factor of two better than the previous limit at this energy range and includes longer timescales than have previously been explored. Comparison of this result with previous limits on the fraction of the critical density comprised by PBHs, Ω pbh, depends strongly on assumptions made about PBH clustering; in models predicting strong PBH clustering, the limit in this work could be as many as ten orders of magnitude more stringently than those set by diffuse MeV gamma-ray observations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics