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A Brief History of Black Holes

20 Mar 2017, 20:03 UTC
A Brief History of Black Holes
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Given that astronomy dates back to early written records from the Babylonians around 1600 BC if not earlier, black holes are a relatively new addition to human knowledge of the cosmos. Black holes cannot be seen therefore it took a long time for the first one to be found.

Composed of matter so compressed that not even light can escape them, they are invisible yet their presence exerts a powerful gravitational force on nearby objects such as stars and gas. Any surrounding material is pulled in by gravity, spiralling inwards to fall onto an accretion disc. Even though the black hole itself cannot be seen, the accretion disc can be very luminous due to the energy released when material falls onto it. Some of the gas will then fall further to the event horizon and be lost forever to the strong gravitational pull of the black hole, whilst other material will escape and be ejected as intense jets of energy, detectable at intergalactic distances.
Speculations about superdense celestial bodies began in the 1700s, but the modern concept of a black hole was first described in 1916 by Albert Einstein. Black holes were predicted by his theory of general relativity which ...

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