The Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- Princeton University Press
Could Einstein have possibly anticipated directly testing the most captivating prediction of general relativity, that there exist isolated pockets of spacetime shielded completely from our own? Now, almost a century after that theory emerged, one of the world's leading astrophysicists presents a wealth of recent evidence that just such an entity, with a mass of about three million suns, is indeed lurking at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Wayin the form of a supermassive ''black hole''!
With this superbly illustrated, elegantly written, nontechnical account of the most enigmatic astronomical object yet observed, Fulvio Melia captures all the excitement of the growing realization that we are on the verge of actually seeing this exotic object within the next few years.
Melia traces our intellectual pilgrimage to the ''brooding behemoth'' at the heart of the Milky Way. He describes the dizzying technological advances that have recently brought us to the point of seeing through all the cosmic dust to a dark spot in a clouded cluster of stars in the constellation Sagittarius. Carefully assembling the compelling circumstantial evidence for its black hole status, he shows that it is primed to reveal itself as a glorious panorama of activity within this decadethrough revolutionary images of its ''event horizon'' against the bright backdrop of nearby, radiating gas.
Uniquely, this book brings together a specific and fascinating astronomical subjectblack holeswith a top researcher to provide both amateur and armchair astronomers, but also professional scientists seeking a concise overview of the topic, a real sense of the palpable thrill in the scientific community when an important discovery is imminent.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.77(d)|
About the Author
Fulvio Melia is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Arizona and Scientific Editor of the Astrophysical Journal. A former Presidential Young Investigator and Sloan Research Fellow, he is the author of more than 170 articles on theoretical astrophysics and of a textbook, Electrodynamics.
Table of Contents
1. THE GALACTIC CENTER 1
1.1 The Hidden Realm 3
1.2 Removing the Dusty Veils 10
1.3 The Principal Constituents 18
1.4 Exploration from Space 27
2. CONDENSATION OF DARK MATTER 35
2.1 A Swarm of Stars 37
2.2 The Motion of Stars and Gas 39
2.3 The Missing Mass 44
2.4 A Super-Heavy Central Object 47
3. THE THEORY OF GRAVITY 51
3.1 What Is Mass? 51
3.2 Development of a Gravity Theory 61
3.3 Everything Is Relative 69
3.4 The Principle of Equivalence 77
3.5 The Key Predictions of General Relativity 83
3.6 Black Holes and Their Event Horizons 94
4. A STAR IN SAGITTARIUS 105
4.1 Hawking Radiation 106
4.2 Energy Extraction according to Penrose 111
4.3 Cosmic Fireworks 114
4.4 Shape and Size of Sagittarius A* 117
4.5 The Glow of Matter Falling In 122
5. THE EVENT HORIZON 129
5.1 The Environment near the Precipice 131
5.2 How the Dark Shadow Forms 134
5.3 An Image of the Black Hole within This Decade 143
5.4 An X-Ray Image of the Dark Shadow from Space 146
5.5 Impact on the General Theory of Relativity 149
6. QUASARS AND GALACTIC NUCLEI 153
6.1 The Host Galaxies of Quasars 157
6.2 The Active Nuclei of Other Galaxies 161
6.3 Superluminal Motion 168
6.4 The Supermassive Black Hole Menagerie 174
6.5 Future Horizons 177
What People are Saying About This
By concentrating on one point in spacetime, Fulvio Melia brings a welcome focus and clarity to this popular exploration of our galaxy's center. Graced by reliable and readable excursions into relativity and other relevant fields, this book is obviously that of an author out to do his best possible work.
Timothy Ferris, author of "Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers are Probing Deep Space" and "Guarding Earth From Interplanetary Peril"
Many readers, especially amateur astronomers, will enjoy this accessible book. Fulvio Melia has contributed significantly to astrophysics and has had a sustained and substantial interest in the Galactic Center. Here, he presents the story of the black hole that has been suspected for over thirty years to exist there, but for which the evidence has dramatically firmed up in the last five years.
Martin Rees, Cambridge University, Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, author of "Our Cosmic Habitat"
"By concentrating on one point in spacetime, Fulvio Melia brings a welcome focus and clarity to this popular exploration of our galaxy's center. Graced by reliable and readable excursions into relativity and other relevant fields, this book is obviously that of an author out to do his best possible work."Timothy Ferris, author of Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth From Interplanetary Peril
"Many readers, especially amateur astronomers, will enjoy this accessible book. Fulvio Melia has contributed significantly to astrophysics and has had a sustained and substantial interest in the Galactic Center. Here, he presents the story of the black hole that has been suspected for over thirty years to exist there, but for which the evidence has dramatically firmed up in the last five years."Martin Rees, Cambridge University, Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, author of Our Cosmic Habitat
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have gradually gotten interested in learning more about black holes and have been looking for an introductory (but not trivial!) book that covers the essentials of this topic for a beginner like me. This book by Melia meets my requirements very well. It is written for the non-technical reader, but is far from trivial or superficial. In fact, some of my friends who have already studied relativity tell me that they finally understood the basic concepts of Einstein's work after reading chapter 3 in this book. So it's clearly not a superficial text. But Melia writes with such eloquence and clarity that even difficult topics are accessible. I highly recommend this book!
Last week I was fortunate to hear Prof. Melia speak on the subject of his two new books, this title, and 'The Edge of Infinity,' and was so impressed I rushed out to get copies of both. I was not disappointed. Both books are very well written, and beautifully produced, with color images throughout. His style is similar to that with which he presented the subject at our amateur astronomy meeting---clear, lively, and thoughtful. I am recommending these to all my friends and relatives. They're the best astronomy books I've read in years, and am looking forward to reading more from him in the years to come!
Take an exciting and exotic topic like 'black holes' and a gifted writer like Fulvio Melia, and what do you get? A surprisingly and satisfyingly accessible book like 'The Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy.' At times it reads like a science fiction novel, until you realize that all of the contents are factual. It's amazing how far astronomers have come in unravelling the mystery behind arguably the most bizarre objects in the universe, and especially the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Galaxy. And Melia does a great job setting the stage and then explaining where things stand. I particularly liked chapter 3, in which he sets out in everyday terms what mass is, and how it is related to gravity. I read it twice before going on to the next. Several questions that have bothered me for years were finally answered. Read this and catch up on where science has gone in the past decade!
This is Fulvio Melia's first book written for the layman and I am very impressed. It's the best book on the subject of black holes that I have ever read. I'm not an expert, but Prof. Melia made me feel like I could understand this subject like a professional scientist. In my opinion, he's the leader of a new generation of popularizers of science, in the tradition of Sagan and Hawking. This is a must read for anyone with an interest in astronomy.