Black Hole Astrophysics: The Engine Paradigm

Springer Science & Business Media
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As a result of significant research over the past 20 years, black holes are now linked to some of the most spectacular and exciting phenomena in the Universe, ranging in size from those that have the same mass as stars to the super-massive objects that lie at the heart of most galaxies, including our own Milky Way. This book first introduces the properties of simple isolated holes, then adds in complications like rotation, accretion, radiation, and magnetic fields, finally arriving at a basic understanding of how these immense engines work.

Black Hole Astrophysics

• reviews our current knowledge of cosmic black holes and how they generate the most powerful observed pheonomena in the Universe;

• highlights the latest, most up-to-date theories and discoveries in this very active area of astrophysical research;

• demonstrates why we believe that black holes are responsible for important phenomena such as quasars, microquasars and gammaray bursts;

• explains to the reader the nature of the violent and spectacular outfl ows (winds and jets) generated by black hole accretion.

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About the author

David Meier is a Senior Research Scientist and supervisor of the Evolution of Galaxies Group at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. David had an early career doing research in genetics at Washington University School of Medicine and in solid state physics at the University of Missouri - Rolla (UMR), before achieving his goal of research in astrophysics. He was educated in physics at UMR (BS 1971; MS 1973) and in astrophysics at The University of Texas at Austin (MA 1975; PhD 1977), working there under D. Schramm, B. Tinsley, and J.C. Wheeler on astrophysical jet production, galaxy formation, and winds from accretion disks around black holes. In 1976, with Tinsley, he predicted the existence of primeval Lyman break galaxies, which since have been discovered and found to have many of their expected properties. At Caltech and JPL David has been an integral part of a number of projects and missions involving observations of galaxies and black hole systems, including very long baseline radio interferometry (VLBI) in the southern hemisphere, VLBI using a space-based antenna (which created a telescope three times the size of the earth), and the space interferometer mission SIM. He also spent several years working on the US government's “star wars” project and was the group leader for parallel computing applications in that effort. While much of his recent work has been theoretical investigations of accretion inflows and outflows from black holes systems, David also enjoys occasional observational studies, using some of the satellites and telescopes on which he has worked. He also greatly enjoys his three grandsons, with a fourth soon to arrive.

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Additional Information

Springer Science & Business Media
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Published on
Jul 27, 2012
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Science / Gravity
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
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The authoritative story of the headline-making discovery of gravitational waves—by an eminent theoretical astrophysicist and award-winning writer.

From the author of How the Universe Got Its Spots and A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, the epic story of the scientific campaign to record the soundtrack of our universe.
Black holes are dark. That is their essence. When black holes collide, they will do so unilluminated. Yet the black hole collision is an event more powerful than any since the origin of the universe. The profusion of energy will emanate as waves in the shape of spacetime: gravitational waves. No telescope will ever record the event; instead, the only evidence would be the sound of spacetime ringing. In 1916, Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, his top priority after he proposed his theory of curved spacetime. One century later, we are recording the first sounds from space, the soundtrack to accompany astronomy’s silent movie.

In Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, Janna Levin recounts the fascinating story of the obsessions, the aspirations, and the trials of the scientists who embarked on an arduous, fifty-year endeavor to capture these elusive waves. An experimental ambition that began as an amusing thought experiment, a mad idea, became the object of fixation for the original architects—Rai Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Ron Drever. Striving to make the ambition a reality, the original three gradually accumulated an international team of hundreds. As this book was written, two massive instruments of remarkably delicate sensitivity were brought to advanced capability. As the book draws to a close, five decades after the experimental ambition began, the team races to intercept a wisp of a sound with two colossal machines, hoping to succeed in time for the centenary of Einstein’s most radical idea. Janna Levin’s absorbing account of the surprises, disappointments, achievements, and risks in this unfolding story offers a portrait of modern science that is unlike anything we’ve seen before.

From the Hardcover edition.
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