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Published April 2009 | Published
Journal Article Open

Introducing the black hole


The quasi-stellar object, the pulsar, the neutron star have all come onto the scene of physics within the space of a few years. Is the next entrant destined to be the black hole? If so, it is difficult to think of any development that could be of greater significance. A black hole, whether of "ordinary size" (approximately one solar mass, 1 M⊙) or much larger (around 10^6 M⊙ to 10^10 M⊙, as proposed in the nuclei of some galaxies), provides our "laboratory model" for the gravitational collapse, predicted by Einstein's theory, of the universe itself.

Additional Information

© 2009 by the American Institute of Physics. This article is adapted from the report by R. Ruffini, J. A. Wheeler, "Relativistic Cosmology and Space Platforms," in The Significance of Space Research for Fundamental Physics, European Space Research Organization, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France (1971). from the archives: From January 1971, pages 30-41.

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