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Published August 3, 2012 | public
Journal Article

Classical Black Holes: The Nonlinear Dynamics of Curved Spacetime

Thorne, Kip S.


Numerical simulations have revealed two types of physical structures, made from curved spacetime, that are attached to black holes: tendexes, which stretch or squeeze anything they encounter, and vortexes, which twist adjacent inertial frames relative to each other. When black holes collide, their tendexes and vortexes interact and oscillate (a form of nonlinear dynamics of curved spacetime). These oscillations generate gravitational waves, which can give kicks up to 4000 kilometers per second to the merged black hole. The gravitational waves encode details of the spacetime dynamics and will soon be observed and studied by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and its international partners.

Additional Information

© 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science. For insights into the geometrodynamics of black holes, I thank my research collaborators: J. Brink, Y. Chen, J. Kaplan, G. Lovelace, K. Matthews, D. Nichols, R. Owen, M. Scheel, F. Zhang, and A. Zimmerman. My geometrodynamic research is supported by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, the Brinson Foundation, and NSF grant PHY-1068881.

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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023