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GTCC Fall Astronomy Day Public Lecture
October 17, 2008 @ 12:00 am
Black Holes: From Einstein to Gamma Ray Bursts Dr. Neil Gehrels
NASA Godard Space Flight Center
With amazing intuition, Einstein developed his theory of general relativity and published it in 1916. His equations predicted that space-time is warped by mass in the universe. They had an unexpected solution with a gravitational singularity from which even light could not escape - later named a "black hole" by John Wheeler. Others predicted that massive stars could, in principle, collapse to such a state. With the space age, X-ray telescopes found strong evidence that black holes really exist and are important components of the cosmos. Their birth is observed as fiery gamma-ray bursts. Still unproven are some of the more exotic predictions such as worm holes connecting distant parts of the universe and the evaporation of primordial black holes proposed by Stephen Hawking. This lecture will discuss all of the real and speculative aspects of black holes and return to the still-open question of "what is a black hole".
The Cline Observatory at GTCC will be open for observing (weather permitting) immediately after the talk.