Exploring Black Holes: General Relativity & Astrophysics


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Study of physical effects in the vicinity of a black hole as a basis for understanding general relativity, astrophysics, and elements of cosmology. Extension to current developments in theory and observation. Energy and momentum in flat spacetime; the metric; curvature of spacetime near rotating and nonrotating centers of attraction; trajectories and orbits of particles and light; elementary models of the Cosmos. Weekly meetings include an evening seminar and recitation. The last third of the semester is reserved for collaborative research projects on topics such as the Global Positioning System, solar system tests of relativity, descending into a black hole, gravitational lensing, gravitational waves, Gravity Probe B, and more advanced models of the Cosmos.

7 hours of lectures.

Assignments and exams.



Professor Bertschinger received his BS in physics from Caltech in 1979 and his PhD in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University in 1984.  Following postdoctoral positions at the University of Virginia and at UC Berkeley, he joined the MIT faculty in 1986.  From 2002-2007 he served as Astrophysics Division Head before becoming Physics Department Head. He is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Source: MIT Faculty page

Edwin F. Taylor received his A. B. degree from Oberlin College and his Ph.D. degree in physics from Harvard University. He has spent most of his professional life in the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has written texts in introductory mechanics, quantum mechanics (with A. P. French), and special and general relativity (with John Archibald Wheeler).

Source:Edwin F. Taylor page


Exploring Black Holes: General Relativity & Astrophysics by Prof. Edmund Bertschinger and Prof. Edwin F. Taylor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-224-exploring-black-holes-general-relativity-astrophysics-spring-2003/.

Course content

  • Introduction to the Class

  • The Universe: Questions You Were Afraid to Ask

  • Einstein's Field Equations

  • X-Ray Binaries and the Search for Black Holes

  • The Universe and Three Examples

  • Cosmic Structure Formation; From Inflation to Galaxies

  • Assignments

  • Exams

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