Black Holes and the Cosmos

Mass Holes

Simulated view of a black hole in front of the Large Magellanic Cloud. The ratio between the black hole Schwarzschild radius and the observer distance to it is 1:9. Of note is the gravitational lensing effect known as an Einstein ring, which produces a set of two fairly bright and large but highly distorted images of the Cloud as compared to its actual angular size. Courtesy Alain R. And Wikimedia Commons. Click to enlarge.

Welcome to the background page for my February 22, 2011 edition of 365 Days of Astronomy. Today I talk about black holes.  It all stems from an entry I made on my blog called Mass Holes, wherein I talked about black holes in general.

I’ve found these objects to be incredibly interesting. Back when I was in school as a kid, black holes were more of a theoretical idea.  But, there was no doubt that they’d be found–most astronomers said it was a matter of time and having the right equipment and techniques to detect them.

In the Hubble Space Telescope age, as well as in the radio astronomy age and the x-ray-telescope age, astronomers are now finding evidence for these once-mysterious objects.  That evidence includes superheated jets of material streaming away from event horizons surrounding black holes, as well as fantastically strong x-ray and radio emissions from the materials surrounding these giant sucking objects. Now, astronomers are using black holes to probe the history of galaxy formation and evolution, and using stellar-mass black holes to understand the end states of very massive stars. It’s been a heck of a ride for black hole science, and there’s more yet to learn!

For more information about black holes, here are a few useful sites. Most of them have links to other interesting reading about black holes, too.

General Background

Black Hole (Wikipedia)

Galaxy Formation and Evolution (Wikipedia)

Stellar Black Holes (Wikipedia)

Chandra Guide to X-ray Sources (including black holes)

NRAO Guide to Black Holes

Media Stories and Pieces about Black Holes

A Black Hole at the Centre of our Galaxy

Astronomers Discover New Clues to Galaxy Evolution

Black Holes and Galaxies

Black Holes, Quasars, and Active Galaxies

Heaviest Stellar Black Hole Discovered in Nearby Galaxy

Lone Black Holes Discovered Adrift in Galaxy

Measuring the Black Hole (at the Heart of the Milky Way) (a podcast)

Surprise: Dwarf Galaxy Harbors Supermassive Black Hole

Zoom into the Stellar Black Hole NGC 300 X-1

Finally, listeners have been writing asking about the cool background music that shows up on each of my podcasts. It’s all music by Geodesium; this album features a piece from his newly released album Stella Novus. You you can find out more by visiting his web site at!

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