The Black Sheep of Black Holes
Primordial black holes could have formed in the absence of any matter, from quantum fluctuations that would go on to form, after billions of years, the filament-like scaffolding around which all galaxy clusters now coalesce. NASA The Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar once remarked that black holes, regions of spacetime whose gravitational field is so strong […]
Think You Know the Definition of a Black Hole? Think Again
When I was 12, I made the mistake of watching the Paul W. S. Anderson horror film, Event Horizon. It gave me nightmares for weeks: The movie’s title refers to an experimental spaceship that could create artificial black holes through which to travel, making interstellar trips trivial. But the crew, upon activating the ship’s gravity […]
How Supermassive Black Holes Were Discovered
Astronomers turned a fantastic concept into reality.
The Strangeness of Black Holes
From quantum information to the Schwarzschild radius.
Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine‘s Abstractions blog. Despite its ability to bend both minds and space, an Einsteinian black hole looks so simple a child could draw it. There’s a point in the center, a perfectly spherical boundary a bit farther out, and that’s it The point is the singularity, an infinitely dense, unimaginably small dot […]
Announcing a Black Hole Essay Competition from Harvard
The $10,000 First Prize will include the opportunity to publish the winning article in Nautilus, a leading online and print magazine that blends science, culture, and philosophy. The Black Hole Initiative (BHI) at Harvard University announces the first-ever Black Hole Essay Competition, inviting submissions that explore novel connections and new perspectives on black hole research. […]
Why It’s Hard to Recognize a Black Hole
Despite having a standard model of an AGN—a supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disk with jets streaming out in opposite directions, all encompassed by a dusty torus—making sense of our observations is still a challenge.NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al.; MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al.; ESO/WFI. Astronomers can sometimes be literal to a fault. We like to call […]
Are Gravitational Wave Detections Becoming Normal?
When I heard the news, I emailed my editor with my immediate reaction: “Bummer.” For the fourth time now, humans have directly detected the collision of two black holes. The violent merger occurred over 2 billion years ago, between black holes with 25 and 31 times the mass of our sun. It released an […]
What to Savor about the Discovery of Gravity Waves
What will come with the ability to detect gravitational waves? Nergis Mavalvala can’t wait to find out.Image by LLacertae / Flickr You may have once startled a duck or two after tossing a rock into a pond to watch the water ripple. But imagine watching ripples in space-time as the result of two black holes […]
Dark Matter May Be Trapped in All the Black Holes
When, on February the 11th, 2016, the spokesperson for the Advanced Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observer, or aLIGO, for short, announced the discovery of gravitational waves, I was stunned. For sure, we expected aLIGO to, at some point, give us something interesting, but we thought it would be tentative. We expected that the project would, […]