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Blace Hole


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A black hole is a theoretical region of space in which the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing, not even electromagnetic radiation (e.g. visible light), can escape its pull after having fallen past its event horizon. The term derives from the fact that the absorption of visible light renders the hole's interior invisible, and indistinguishable from the black space around it.
. The idea of an object with gravity strong enough to prevent light from escaping was proposed in 1783 by John Michell, an amateur British astronomer. In 1795, Pierre-Simon Laplace, a French physicist independently came to the same conclusion. Black holes, as currently understood, are described by the general theory of relativity. This theory predicts that when a large enough amount of mass is present in a sufficiently small region of space, all paths through space are warped inwards towards the center of the volume, preventing all matter and radiation within it from escaping.
While general relativity describes a black hole as a region of empty space with a point-like singularity at the center and an event horizon at the outer edge, the description changes when the effects of quantum mechanics are taken into account.


The term black hole to describe this phenomenon dates from the mid-1960s, though its precise origins are unclear. According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, as mass is added to a degenerate star a sudden collapse will take place and the intense gravitational field of the star will close in on itself. Such a star then forms a "black hole" in the universe.
Popular accounts commonly try to explain the black hole phenomenon by using the concept of escape velocity, the speed needed for a vessel starting at the surface of a massive object to completely clear the object's gravitational field. It follows from Newton's law of gravity that a sufficiently dense object's escape velocity will equal or even exceed the speed of light. Citing that nothing can exceed the speed of light they then infer that nothing would be able to escape such a dense object.[14] However, the argument has a flaw in that it does not explain why light would be affected by a gravitating body or why it would not be able to escape. Nor does it give a satisfactory explanation for why a powered spaceship would not be able to break free.

Event horizon

The defining feature of a black hole, the event horizon, is a surface in spacetime that marks a point of no return. Once an object has crossed this surface there is no way that it can return to the other side. Consequently, anything inside this surface is completely hidden from observers outside. Other than this the event horizon is a completely normal part of space, with no special features that would allow someone falling into the a black hole to know when he would cross the horizon. The event horizon is not a solid surface, and does not obstruct or slow down matter or radiation that is traveling towards the region within the event horizon.


According to general relativity, there is a space-time singularity at a center of a spherical black hole, which means an infinite space-time curvature. It means that from a point of view of an observer which falls into a black hole, in a finite time a black hole's mass becomes entirely compressed into a region with zero volume, so its density becomes infinite. This zero-volume, infinitely dense region at the center of a black hole is called a gravitational singularity.
The singularity in a non-rotating black hole is a point, in other words it has zero length, width, and height. The singularity of a rotating black hole is smeared out to form a ring shape lying in the plane of rotation. The ring still has no thickness and hence no volume.

Hawking radiation

In 1974, Stephen Hawking showed that black holes are not entirely black but emit small amounts of thermal radiation. He got this result by applying quantum field theory in a static black hole background. The result of his calculations is that a black hole should emit particles in a perfect black body spectrum. This effect has become known as Hawking radiation. Since Hawking's result many others have verified the effect through various methods.
The temperature of the emitted black body spectrum is proportional to the surface gravity of the black hole. For a Schwarzschild black hole this is inversely proportional to the mass. Consequently, large black holes are very cold and emit very little radiation. A stellar black hole of 10 solar masses, for example, would have a Hawking temperature of several nanokelvin, much less than the 2.7K produced by the Cosmic Microwave Background. Micro black holes on the other hand could be quite bright producing high energy gamma rays.
Due to low Hawking temperature of stellar black holes, Hawking radiation has never been observed at any of the black hole candidates.

Formation and evolution

From the exotic nature of black holes, it is natural to question if such bizarre objects could actually exist in nature or that they are merely pathological solutions to Einstein's equations. However in 1970, Hawking and Penrose proved the opposite; under generic conditions black holes are expected to form in any universe.[27] The primary formation process for black holes is expected to be the gravitational collapse of heavy objects such as stars, but there are also more exotic processes that can lead to the production of black holes.

Gravitation collapse

Gravitational collapse occurs when an object's internal pressure is insufficient to resist the object's own gravity. For stars this usually occurs either because a star has too little "fuel" left to maintain its temperature, or because a star which would have been stable receives a lot of extra matter in a way which does not raise its core temperature. In either case the star's temperature is no longer high enough to prevent it from collapsing under its own weight (the ideal gas law explains the connection between pressure, temperature, and volume).

Production in high energy collisions

Gravitational collapse is not the only process that could create black holes. In principle, black holes could also be created in high energy collisions that create sufficient density. Since classically black holes can take any mass, one would expect micro black holes to be created in any such process no matter how low the energy. However, to date, no such events have ever been detected either directly or indirectly as a deficiency of the mass balance in particle accelerator experiments. This suggests that there must be a lower limit for the mass of black holes.


Once a black hole has formed, it can continue to grow by absorbing additional matter. Any black hole will continually absorb interstellar dust from its direct surroundings and omnipresent cosmic background radiation, but neither of these processes should significantly affect the mass of a stellar black hole. More significant contributions can occur when the black hole formed in a binary star system. After formation the black hole can then leech significant amounts of matter from its companion.
Much larger contributions can be obtained when a black hole merges with other stars or compact objects. The supermassive black holes suspected in the center of most galaxies are expected to have formed from the coagulation of many smaller objects. The process has also been proposed as the origin of some intermediate-mass black holes.

Techniques for finding black holes

Accretion disks and gas jets


Formation of extragalactic jets from a black hole's accretion disk
Most accretion disks and gas jets are not clear proof that a stellar-mass black hole is present, because other massive, ultra-dense objects such as neutron stars and white dwarfs cause accretion disks and gas jets to form and to behave in the same ways as those around black holes. But they can often help by telling astronomers where it might be worth looking for a black hole.

Strong radiation emissions


A "Quasar" Black Hole.
Steady X-ray and gamma ray emissions also do not prove that a black hole is present, but can tell astronomers where it might be worth looking for one - and they have the

Gravitational lensing


Simulation of Gravitational lensing by a black hole which distorts a galaxy in the background.
A gravitational lens is formed when the light from a very distant, bright source (such as a quasar) is "bent" around a massive object (such as a black hole) between the source object and the observer. The process is known as gravitational lensing, and is one of the predictions of the general theory of relativity.

Determining the mass of black holes

Quasi-periodic oscillations can be used to determine the mass of black holes.[38] The technique uses a relationship between black holes and the inner part of their surrounding disks, where gas spirals inward before reaching the event horizon. As the gas collapses inwards, it radiates X-rays with an intensity that varies in a pattern that repeats itself over a nearly regular interval.

Micro black holes

In theory there is no smallest size for a black hole. Once created, it has the properties of a black hole. Stephen Hawking theorized that primordial black holes could evaporate and become even tinier, i.e. micro black holes. Searches for evaporating primordial black holes are proposed for the GLAST satellite to be launched in 2008. However, if micro black holes can be created by other means, such as by cosmic ray impacts or in colliders, that does not imply that they must evaporate.


Newtonian theories

The concept of a body so massive that even light could not escape was put forward by the geologist John Michell in a letter written to Henry Cavendish in 1783 and published by the Royal Society.
This assumes that light is influenced by gravity in the same way as massive objects.
The idea of black holes was largely ignored in the nineteenth century, since light was then thought to be a massless wave and therefore not influenced by gravity. Unlike a modern black hole, the object behind the horizon is assumed to be stable against collapse.

Theories based on general relativity

In 1915, Albert Einstein developed the theory of gravity called general relativity, having earlier shown that gravity does influence light (although light has zero rest mass, it is not the rest mass that is the source of gravity but the energy). A few months later, showing that a black hole could theoretically exist..
In 1930, the astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar argued that, according to special relativity, a non-rotating body above 1.44 solar masses (the Chandrasekhar limit), would collapse since there was nothing known at that time could stop it from doing so. Eddington was partly right: a white dwarf slightly more massive than the Chandrasekhar limit will collapse into a neutron star. But in 1939, Robert Oppenheimer published papers which predicted that stars above about three solar masses would collapse into black holes for the reasons presented by Chandrasekhar.
Oppenheimer and his co-authors used Schwarzschild's system of coordinates, which produced mathematical singularities at the Schwarzschild radius, in other words the equations broke down at the Schwarzschild radius because some of the terms were infinite. This was interpreted as indicating that the Schwarzschild radius was the boundary of a "bubble" in which time "stopped. In 1970, Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose proved that black holes are a feature of all solutions to Einstein's equations of gravity, not just of Schwarzschild's, and therefore black holes cannot be avoided in some collapsing objects.
In 1971, Louise Webster and Paul Murdin, at the Royal Greenwich Observatory,[58] and Charles Thomas Bolton, working independently at the University of Toronto's David Dunlap Observatory,[59] observed HDE 226868 wobble, as if orbiting around an invisible but massive companion.

More advanced topics

Entropy and Hawking radiation

In 1971, Stephen Hawking showed that the total area of the event horizons of any collection of classical black holes can never decrease, even if they collide and swallow each other; that is merge.[69] This is remarkably similar to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, with area playing the role of entropy. As a classical object with zero temperature it was assumed that black holes had zero entropy; if so the second law of thermodynamics would be violated by an entropy-laden material entering the black hole, resulting in a decrease of the total entropy of the universe. Therefore, Jacob Bekenstein proposed that a black hole should have an entropy, and that it should be proportional to its horizon area. Since black holes do not classically emit radiation, the thermodynamic viewpoint seemed simply an analogy, since zero temperature implies infinite changes in entropy with any addition of heat, which implies infinite entropy. However, in 1974, Hawking applied quantum field theory to the curved spacetime around the event horizon and discovered that black holes emit Hawking radiation, a form of thermal radiation, allied to the Unruh effect, which implied they had a positive temperature. This strengthened the analogy being drawn between black hole dynamics and thermodynamics: using the first law of black hole mechanics, it follows that the entropy of a non-rotating black hole is one quarter of the area of the horizon. This is a universal result and can be extended to apply to cosmological horizons such as in de Sitter space. It was later suggested that black holes are maximum-entropy objects, meaning that the maximum possible entropy of a region of space is the entropy of the largest black hole that can fit into it. This led to the holographic principle.

If ultra-high-energy collisions of particles in a particle accelerator can create microscopic black holes, it is expected that all types of particles will be emitted by black hole evaporation, providing key evidence for any grand unified theory. Above are the high energy particles produced in a gold ion collision on the RHIC.
Although general relativity can be used to perform a semi-classical calculation of black hole entropy, this situation is theoretically unsatisfying. In statistical mechanics, entropy is understood as counting the number of microscopic configurations of a system which have the same macroscopic qualities(such as mass, charge, pressure, etc.). But without a satisfactory theory of quantum gravity, one cannot perform such a computation for black holes. Some promise has been shown by string theory, however. There one posits that the microscopic degrees of freedom of the black hole are D-branes. By counting the states of D-branes with given charges and energy, the entropy for certain supersymmetric black holes has been reproduced. Extending the region of validity of these calculations is an ongoing area of research.



Multiwavelength X-ray, infrared, and optical compilation image of Kepler's Supernova Remnant, SN 1604.
A supernova is a stellar explosion. They are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy before fading from view over several weeks or months. During this short interval, a supernova can radiate as much energy as the Sun could emit over its life span. The explosion expels much or all of a star's material[2] at a velocity of up to a tenth the speed of light, driving a shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium. This shock wave sweeps up an expanding shell of gas and dust called a supernova remnant.
Several types of supernovae exist that may be triggered in one of two ways, involving either turning off or suddenly turning on the production of energy through nuclear fusion. After the core of an aging massive star ceases to generate energy from nuclear fusion, it may undergo sudden gravitational collapse into a neutron star or black hole, releasing gravitational potential energy that heats and expels the star's outer layers. Alternatively, a white dwarf star may accumulate sufficient material from a stellar companion raise its core temperature enough to ignite carbon fusion, at which point it undergoes runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting it. Stellar cores whose furnaces have permanently gone out collapse when their masses exceed the Chandrasekhar limit, while accreting white dwarfs ignite as they approach this limit White dwarfs are also subject to a different, much smaller type of thermonuclear explosion fueled by hydrogen on their surfaces called a nova. Solitary stars with a mass below approximately nine[5] solar masses, such as the Sun itself, evolve into white dwarfs without ever becoming supernovae.

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