Black Holes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Black Holes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Language: English

Pages: 144

ISBN: 0199602662

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Black holes are a constant source of fascination to many due to their mysterious nature. This Very Short Introduction, addresses a variety of questions, including what a black hole actually is, how they are characterized and discovered, and what would happen if you came too close to one.

Professor Katherine Blundell looks at the seemingly paradoxical, mysterious, and intriguing phenomena of black holes. Outlining their nature and characteristics, both those resulting from the spectacular collapse of heavy stars, and the giant black holes found at the centres of galaxies, she separates scientific fact from science fiction, and demonstrates the important role they play in the cosmos.

The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


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Entity, which is stationary for the time indicated by the vertical extent of the line. An example might be a camera belonging to one of the photographers, left on a chair (so that its worldline is vertical because its position isn’t changing), before it was stolen and whisked away (when the spatial location changes continuously). Where this line becomes slanting is where its spatial location is changing with time. The slope of this line tells you about the rate of change of distance with time,.

Possible however, much closer to the black-hole Sun than were possible previously when the solar plasma was in the way. However, these orbits could not get too close to the event horizon. The details of the warping of spacetime by a mass singularity mean that it is not possible to orbit just outside the event horizon itself. Attempting a circular orbit there would require corrective action by rockets in order to maintain the orbit. In fact, the mathematics shows that the closest that we or any.

Present. A good approach is to use general relativity to model how spacetime curves and then use this together with quantum mechanics to understand the behaviour of particles in the curved spacetime. This was the approach that Hawking took to attempt to understand the thermodynamics of black holes. Is empty space empty? The concept of the vacuum (a region where there is ‘nothing’ there) has had a long and tortuous history. Most of the ancient Greek philosophers hated the idea, on grounds.

Spin-offs Further reading Index Acknowledgements I should like to record my warm thanks to Phillip Allcock, Russell Allcock, Steven Balbus, Roger Blandford, Stephen Blundell, Stephen Justham, Tom Lancaster, Latha Menon, John Miller, and Paul Tod for many helpful comments on drafts of this book, to Stephen Blundell for preparing the diagrams, and to Steven Lee for assistance with the optical observations. KMB Oxford, April 2015 List of illustrations 1 John.

Helpful way to visualize what is going on. For this reason, it is well worth spending a little effort to understand a particular type of picture, called a spacetime diagram. This will help in understanding the nature of spacetime around black holes. Spacetime diagrams The cartoon in Figure 3 shows a simple spacetime diagram. Following tradition, the ‘time-like’ axis is the one that is vertical on the page and the ‘space-like’ axis is drawn perpendicular to this. Of course, we really need.

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