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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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Supermassive Black Holes

Supermassive Black Holes

(p.84) 5 Supermassive Black Holes
What Does a Black Hole Look Like?

Charles D. Bailyn

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on supermassive black holes, which are sometimes abbreviated “SMBHs.” Stellar-mass black holes are clearly common consequences of stellar evolution, but they are not the only kinds of black holes identified by astronomers. Much more massive black holes are located in the center of many, and perhaps all, galaxies. These black holes are referred to as supermassive black holes. They are responsible for a range of phenomena originating from objects described as active galactic nuclei (AGN), which were first observed in the form of quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) or quasars. AGN are among the most luminous objects in the Universe and can be observed at great distances. The distances can be so great that the light travel time from the AGN to Earth is a large fraction of the age of the Universe. They are therefore often used to probe the evolution of the Universe.

Keywords:   supermassive black holes, stellar evolution, active galactic nuclei, quasi-stellar objects, quasars, light travel

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