Black holes entered the world of science fiction and films in the 1960s, and their popularity in our culture remains today. The buzz surrounding black holes was and is due, in large part, to their speculative nature. It is still difficult for the general public to determine fact versus fiction as it pertains to this terrifying idea: something big enough to swallow anything and everything in close proximity, with a gravitational force so strong that nothing, including light, can escape.
In the fall of 2015, scientists at the Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected the first sounds from black holes, brought to earth by the gravitational waves that emitted from the merging of two black holes 1.4 billion light years away in space. This confirmed the existence of gravitational waves, which Albert Einstein predicted in 1916. In the spring of 2017, physicists and astronomers who were working on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project captured the first image of a black hole. This was the supermassive black hole hosted by the galaxy M87 in the constellation Virgo, 53 million light years away, and the image shows the shadow the black hole casts upon the bright light surrounding it.
In this book, John Moffat shares the history of black holes and presents the latest research into these mysterious celestial objects, including the astounding results from gravitational wave detection and the shadow of the black hole.
John Moffat is a theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. For most of his career, he was Professor of Physics at the University of Toronto, supervising graduate students towards their PhD degrees and teaching undergraduate and graduate physics courses. Moffat is best known for his research in gravitation, astrophysics, astronomy, cosmology, and particle physics. In these diverse fields, he has proposed numerous alternative theories to the prevailing ones. In 1953, Albert Einstein personally, though perhaps unintentionally, opened doors for Moffat in the field by introducing him to other well-known physicists. This led him to Trinity College, Cambridge University, and a PhD without an undergraduate degree. To date, Moffat has published over 300 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, and he is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. His most recent book, Cracking the Particle Code of the Universe, published in 2014.
Chapter 1. Gravitation and Black Holes
Chapter 2. Thermodynamics, Quantum Physics, and Black Holes
Chapter 3. Stars and Black Holes
Chapter 4. Early Observations of Black Holes
Chapter 5. Wormholes, Time Travel, and Other Exotic Theories
Chapter 6. Origins of Gravitational Waves and Detectors
Chapter 7. The Biggest Ears in the Sky: LIGO
Chapter 8. LIGO/ Virgo Listens to Neutron Stars
Chapter 9. Alternative Gravitational Theories
Chapter 10. The Biggest Eyes in the Sky: The EHT