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What Does a Black Hole Look Like?$
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Charles D. Bailyn

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148823

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148823.001.0001

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Introducing Black Holes: Event Horizons and Singularities

Introducing Black Holes: Event Horizons and Singularities

(p.1) 1 Introducing Black Holes: Event Horizons and Singularities
What Does a Black Hole Look Like?

Charles D. Bailyn

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides a background of black holes. The term “black hole” is not defined in a technical way and is used in different contexts to mean different things. The phrase itself was popularized by the physicist John Archibald Wheeler to replace the cumbersome description “gravitationally completely collapsed object.” However, black holes are not just useful metaphors or remarkable constructs of theoretical physics; they actually exist. Over the past few decades, black holes have moved from theoretical exotica to a well-known and carefully studied class of astronomical objects. Extensive data archives reveal the properties of systems containing black holes, and many details of their behavior are known. In the current astronomical literature, the seemingly bizarre properties of black holes are now taken for granted and are used as a basis for understanding a wide variety of phenomena.

Keywords:   black holes, John Archibald Wheeler, theoretical physics, astronomical objects, astronomical literature, event horizons, singularities

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