Timeline of black hole physics

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Timeline of black hole physics

Pre-20th century

20th century

Before 1960s


After 1960s

21st century

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Black hole</span> Astronomical object that has a no-return boundary

A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing, including light or other electromagnetic waves, has enough energy to escape it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole. The boundary of no escape is called the event horizon. Although it has a great effect on the fate and circumstances of an object crossing it, it has no locally detectable features according to general relativity. In many ways, a black hole acts like an ideal black body, as it reflects no light. Moreover, quantum field theory in curved spacetime predicts that event horizons emit Hawking radiation, with the same spectrum as a black body of a temperature inversely proportional to its mass. This temperature is of the order of billionths of a kelvin for stellar black holes, making it essentially impossible to observe directly.

The weak and the strong cosmic censorship hypotheses are two mathematical conjectures about the structure of gravitational singularities arising in general relativity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">General relativity</span> Theory of gravitation as curved spacetime

General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity and Einstein's theory of gravity, is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in modern physics. General relativity generalizes special relativity and refines Newton's law of universal gravitation, providing a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time or four-dimensional spacetime. In particular, the curvature of spacetime is directly related to the energy and momentum of whatever matter and radiation are present. The relation is specified by the Einstein field equations, a system of second order partial differential equations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gravity</span> Attraction of masses and energy

In physics, gravity (from Latin gravitas 'weight') is a fundamental interaction which causes mutual attraction between all things with mass or energy. Gravity is, by far, the weakest of the four fundamental interactions, approximately 1038 times weaker than the strong interaction, 1036 times weaker than the electromagnetic force and 1029 times weaker than the weak interaction. As a result, it has no significant influence at the level of subatomic particles. However, gravity is the most significant interaction between objects at the macroscopic scale, and it determines the motion of planets, stars, galaxies, and even light.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gravitational singularity</span> Condition in which spacetime itself breaks down

A gravitational singularity, spacetime singularity or simply singularity is a condition in which gravity is predicted to be so intense that spacetime itself would break down catastrophically. As such, a singularity is by definition no longer part of the regular spacetime and cannot be determined by "where" or "when". Gravitational singularities exist at a junction between general relativity and quantum mechanics; therefore, the properties of the singularity cannot be described without an established theory of quantum gravity. Trying to find a complete and precise definition of singularities in the theory of general relativity, the current best theory of gravity, remains a difficult problem. A singularity in general relativity can be defined by the scalar invariant curvature becoming infinite or, better, by a geodesic being incomplete.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of gravitational physics and relativity</span> Timeline

The following is a timeline of gravitational physics and general relativity.

The Schwarzschild radius or the gravitational radius is a physical parameter in the Schwarzschild solution to Einstein's field equations that corresponds to the radius defining the event horizon of a Schwarzschild black hole. It is a characteristic radius associated with any quantity of mass. The Schwarzschild radius was named after the German astronomer Karl Schwarzschild, who calculated this exact solution for the theory of general relativity in 1916.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White hole</span> Hypothetical region of spacetime

In general relativity, a white hole is a hypothetical region of spacetime and singularity that cannot be entered from the outside, although energy-matter, light and information can escape from it. In this sense, it is the reverse of a black hole, from which energy-matter, light and information cannot escape. White holes appear in the theory of eternal black holes. In addition to a black hole region in the future, such a solution of the Einstein field equations has a white hole region in its past. This region does not exist for black holes that have formed through gravitational collapse, however, nor are there any observed physical processes through which a white hole could be formed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Schwarzschild metric</span> Solution to the Einstein field equations

In Einstein's theory of general relativity, the Schwarzschild metric is an exact solution to the Einstein field equations that describes the gravitational field outside a spherical mass, on the assumption that the electric charge of the mass, angular momentum of the mass, and universal cosmological constant are all zero. The solution is a useful approximation for describing slowly rotating astronomical objects such as many stars and planets, including Earth and the Sun. It was found by Karl Schwarzschild in 1916, and around the same time independently by Johannes Droste, who published his more complete and modern-looking discussion four months after Schwarzschild.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Penrose–Hawking singularity theorems</span> Key results in general relativity on gravitational singularities

The Penrose–Hawking singularity theorems are a set of results in general relativity that attempt to answer the question of when gravitation produces singularities. The Penrose singularity theorem is a theorem in semi-Riemannian geometry and its general relativistic interpretation predicts a gravitational singularity in black hole formation. The Hawking singularity theorem is based on the Penrose theorem and it is interpreted as a gravitational singularity in the Big Bang situation. Penrose was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2020 "for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity", which he shared with Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kerr metric</span> Exact solution for the Einstein field equations

The Kerr metric or Kerr geometry describes the geometry of empty spacetime around a rotating uncharged axially symmetric black hole with a quasispherical event horizon. The Kerr metric is an exact solution of the Einstein field equations of general relativity; these equations are highly non-linear, which makes exact solutions very difficult to find.

A charged black hole is a black hole that possesses electric charge. Since the electromagnetic repulsion in compressing an electrically charged mass is dramatically greater than the gravitational attraction, it is not expected that black holes with a significant electric charge will be formed in nature.

In general relativity, a spacetime is said to be static if it does not change over time and is also irrotational. It is a special case of a stationary spacetime, which is the geometry of a stationary spacetime that does not change in time but can rotate. Thus, the Kerr solution provides an example of a stationary spacetime that is not static; the non-rotating Schwarzschild solution is an example that is static.

An asymptotically flat spacetime is a Lorentzian manifold in which, roughly speaking, the curvature vanishes at large distances from some region, so that at large distances, the geometry becomes indistinguishable from that of Minkowski spacetime.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of general relativity</span>

General relativity is a theory of gravitation that was developed by Albert Einstein between 1907 and 1915, with contributions by many others after 1915. According to general relativity, the observed gravitational attraction between masses results from the warping of space and time by those masses.

In physics, there is a speculative hypothesis that, if there were a black hole with the same mass, charge and angular momentum as an electron, it would share other properties of the electron. Most notably, Brandon Carter showed in 1968 that the magnetic moment of such an object would match that of an electron. This is interesting because calculations ignoring special relativity and treating the electron as a small rotating sphere of charge give a magnetic moment roughly half the experimental value.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to black holes:

Negative energy is a concept used in physics to explain the nature of certain fields, including the gravitational field and various quantum field effects.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Thorne, Kip S. (1994). Black holes and time warps : Einstein's outrageous legacy . New York. ISBN   0393035050. OCLC   28147932.
  2. Ferrarese, Laura; Ford, Holland (February 2005). "Supermassive Black Holes in Galactic Nuclei: Past, Present and Future Research". Space Science Reviews. 116 (3–4): 523–624. arXiv: astro-ph/0411247 . Bibcode:2005SSRv..116..523F. doi:10.1007/s11214-005-3947-6. S2CID   119091861. it is fair to say that the single most influential event contributing to the acceptance of black holes was the 1967 discovery of pulsars by graduate student Jocelyn Bell. The clear evidence of the existence of neutron stars – which had been viewed with much skepticism until then – combined with the presence of a critical mass above which stability cannot be achieved, made the existence of stellar-mass black holes inescapable.
  3. Genzel, R; Hollenbach, D; Townes, C H (1994-05-01). "The nucleus of our Galaxy". Reports on Progress in Physics. 57 (5): 417–479. Bibcode:1994RPPh...57..417G. doi:10.1088/0034-4885/57/5/001. ISSN   0034-4885. S2CID   250900662.
  4. Scientific American – Big Gulp: Flaring Galaxy Marks the Messy Demise of a Star in a Supermassive Black Hole

See also