ASTR398B : BLACK HOLES (SPRING 2017; REYNOLDS)

 
 

Black holes are the most exotic prediction of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and, amazingly, the Universe seems to manufacture these bizarre objects in copious numbers.  As well as being the ultimate laboratory for studying the nature of space and time, they drive some of the most energetic and extreme phenomena known to astronomers (with quasars and gamma-ray bursts being just a couple of examples.)   


Astronomy 398B is an introduction to the physics and astrophysics of black holes.  We start by examining the basic physics of black holes, which fundamentally means understanding gravity.  We then look at the nature of stellar-mass black holes (that result from the death of stars) and supermassive black holes (whose origin is closely ties to the formation of the galaxies themselves).  We will discuss the fairly recent realization that black holes may be crucial agents for regulating the growth of galaxies.  Finally, we dive into the realm of theoretical physics and probe how black holes may provide a route for uncovering new laws of physics governing the structure of space and time.


The course syllabus can be found here.

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

PART A : THE CLASSICAL PHYSICS OF BLACK HOLES

Class 1 : Introduction (PDF)

Class 2 : Newton’s Laws of Motion in Three Acts (PDF)

Class 3 : Newtonian Gravity (PDF)

Class 4 : Special Relativity (PDF)

Class 5 : Special Relativity II (PDF)

Class 6 : General Relativity (PDF)

Class 7 : General Relativity II (PDF)

Class 8 : Schwarzschild Black Holes (PDF)

Class 9 : Kerr Black Holes (PDF)


PART B : STELLAR MASS BLACK HOLES

Class 10 : Stellar life and death (PDF)

Class 11 : Neutron stars and pulsars (PDF)

Class 12 : Neutron stars and pulsars (same notes as class 11)

Class 13 : X-ray binaries and discovery of black holes (PDF)

Class 14 : SNOW DAY

Class 15 : MIDTERM EXAM

Class 16 : Accretion Disks (PDF)


PART C : SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLES

Class 17 : Discovery of Quasars (PDF)

Class 18 : Active Galactic Nuclei (PDF)

Class 19 : AGN Jets (PDF)

Class 20 : Our Galactic Center (PDF)

Class 21 : Tidal Disruption Events (PDF)

Class 22 : Origin of Supermassive Black Holes (PDF)


PART D : BLACK HOLES AS LABORATORIES OF FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICS

Class 23 : Introduction to Gravitational Waves (PDF)

Class 24 : The Detection of Gravitational Waves (PDF)

Class 25 : Quantum Physics and Black Hole Evaporation (PDF)

Class 26 : Entanglement and the Black Hole Information Paradox (PDF)

CLASS SCHEDULE AND LECTURE NOTES

HOMEWORKS, ASSIGNMENTS, and OTHER MATERIALS

 

Homework 1 : Online talk on “A century of black holes” (PDF)

Homework 2 : Newtonian Physics (PDF)

Homework 3 : NYT and NPR articles on relativity (PDF)

Homework 4 : Special and General Relativity (PDF)

Homework 5 : Article on “Colliding Black Holes Tell New Story of Stars” (PDF)

Homework 6 : Black Hole Physics and the Life of Stars (PDF)

Homework 7 : Supermassive black holes and galaxy evolution (PDF)

Homework 8 : Supermassive black holes (PDF)

Homework 9 : Online talks on Gravitational Waves and Inside Black Holes (PDF)

Homework 10 : Black Holes and Fundamental Physics (PDF)