Join us on June 10th as Dr. Laura Ferrarese (Biography) from the National Research Council and University of Victoria explores "Black Holes: Into the Heart of Darkness".
This free event requires a ticket. Please register: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/uwaterloo-public-lecture-black-holes-into-the-heart-of-darkness-tickets-6676839607
This lecture will take the audience on a fascinating journey, from the formulation of the theory of black holes — in 1916 — to the most recent observational and theoretical efforts — which include an unprecedented view of the Virgo cluster and its galaxies — and into the future, when it will be technologically possible to detect the ripples in spacetime produced by the coalescence of supermassive black holes — short of the Big Bang itself, the most energetic event in the Universe.
Of all the legacies of Einsteinʼs general theory of relativity, none is more fascinating than black holes — space-time singularities, whose gravitational fields are strong enough to distort space, alter the flow of time, and even prevent light from escaping.
For much of the 20th century, black holes were viewed as mathematical curiosities with no counterparts in nature — Einstein himself wrote two papers in which he argued against their existence. But in the mid 1990s, 80 years after the publication of Einsteinʼs theory, the existence of black holes was proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and on a scale far larger than anyone had anticipated. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, hosts at its center a “supermassive” black hole, four million times more massive than the Sun, whose location coincides with a powerful radio source, Sagittarius A*. The Andromeda galaxy, our local companion, beats us by an order of magnitude: the black hole at its centre is 10 times more massive than the one in the Milky Way. And yet, neither is a match to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the giant elliptical galaxy M87. Most likely due to its privileged position at the dynamical center of the Virgo cluster of galaxies — the largest collection of galaxies closest to the Milky Way, and indeed the largest galaxy cluster within 150 million light years — M87 hosts a black hole whose mass if over 3 billion times the mass of our Sun. It is the most massive black hole whose mass has been securely measured.
But the real surprise came only at the beginning of this century, when a remarkable correlation was discovered between supermassive black holes and the large-scale properties of their hosts galaxies. The very existence of this relation is unequivocal proof that the formation of black holes and galaxies are regulated by a common mechanisms: perhaps even that the formation of galaxies itself is regulated by the supermassive black holes residing at their centres. The resulting meshing of black hole research with cosmology has provided us with the most complete picture of structure formation and evolution to-date.
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