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Exploring Black Holes: Frozen Stars and Gravitational Dynamos

Black holes are gravitational superheroes. Here is their origin story, including World War I, magnificent mustaches, and Albert Einstein.

Artist’s impression of the two black holes that LIGO detected. Note how their gravity distorts the light of stars behind them. Image: The SXS (Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes) Project
Karl Schwarzschild (1873–1916) was a prominent German astrophysicist and owner of magnificent facial hair. His early work on general relativity led to the prediction of black holes. Photo: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften — Archive
Artist’s impression of hot matter swirling around a black hole. Even though the black hole is invisible, it gives itself away by the effects that its powerful gravity has on surrounding material. The dark circle is the black hole’s “event horizon,” where no matter or light can escape from. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1950. This was a publicity photo, since the physicists didn’t really have much to do with each other, but you can’t have a black hole story without an Einstein picture. Oppenheimer’s work helped show that black holes were an inevitable result of gravitational collapse of very massive stars. Photo: U.S. Government Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Writer of physics and astronomy. Wearer of jaunty hats. Tryin' to publish a novel. Social Justice Doof Warrior. Avatar by @ScienceComic .

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