THE GALACTIC BLACK HOLE Lectures on General Relativity and Astrophysics


Author: Heino Falcke and Friedrich W Hehl


ISBN: 0-7503-0837-0

File Type: pdf

File Size:  13 MB

Language: English


Evidence is accumulating that in the center of our own galaxy some 106 solar masses cluster in a region with a diameter of the order of a few astronomical units 1. The theoretical analysis strongly suggests that this can only be a black hole. This is a gravitational configuration where the inner region is cut off from the outside by an event horizon, a semi-permeable closed surface surrounding it: material from the outside can fall in but communication from the inside to the outside is impossible.

When study other galaxies have shown that such supermassive black holes are rather common and probably reside at the center of every galaxy. Cosmologically speaking, the supermassive black hole in the Galactic Center is in our backyard, only about 26 000 light-years away from us.

The theory of black hole physics, developed mainly by general relativists and considered in the past as being no more than a mathematical curiosity, can now be applied to realistic astrophysical situations like that in our Galactic Center. Clearly, the time has come for general relativists and astrophysicists to collaborate on these issues and our book represents an attempt in this direction. The Galactic Center is a unique place where these two fields really start to touch each other. On behalf of the German Physical Society (DPG) and jointly with J. Debris, director of the Physics Center in Bad Honnef, we organized a DPG School on the Galactic Black Hole in Bad Honnef addressing graduate students in physics, astronomy, and mathematics from different countries.

Whereas this was a school and not a workshop for specialists, we, nevertheless, invited as teachers physicists/astrophysicists who are working at the foremost research front of this subject. This book contains the lectures given at that school, in an order which should allow a beginner to tackle the material by commencing from fairly elementary topics in the astrophysics and general relativity of our Galaxy right to the whereabouts of the central supermassive black hole. In fact, one of the goals, besides teaching the students, was to teach the scientists 1 1 AU  150 × 106 km = average distance between earth and sun, see our table of units and constants in the back of the book, p 346. themselves: astrophysics for the relativist and relativity for the astrophysicist.

Hence, we hope the book will be a useful resource for students, lecturers, and researchers in both fields alike. The school was mainly financed by the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation, Hanau and we are grateful to its director, Dr. Ernst Dreisigacker, for the support. We thank Christian Heinicke (Cologne) for help in editing the book and Jim Revill from IoP Publishing for good and pleasant collaboration in producing this THE GALACTIC BLACK HOLE Lectures on General Relativity and  Astrophysics book.
Similar Books