Black Holes at Yale

From October 9 2010 to 1 May 2011 the Peabody Museum's hosted the exhibit Black Holes: Space Warps and Time Twists that explores some of the most mysterious and powerful objects in the universe—black holes. These regions in space, sometimes only a few kilometers across, have gravity so powerful that matter drawn into them is lost forever. Einstein predicted black holes, but doubted whether they could exist in nature. Today evidence suggests they are quite common. There is even a "supermassive black hole" at the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Click here to access the exhibit’s extensive web site.


Accompanying Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists the Museum developed an exhibit on Yale scientists who are looking for and studying black holes.


Astronomy has been studied and taught at Yale since the early 1700s. Yale’s researcher investigate “close to home” astronomical objects like our Sun, as well as those at the distance reaches of the Universe such as quasars and black holes. Much of this research is directed toward understanding the structure, formation and evolution of both galaxies and stars to reveal the evolution of the Universe. Yale scientists use observations at all wavelengths to research astrometry, stellar populations, the evolution of galaxies and cosmology. Theoretical studies also span a wide range of topics, from star formation and the structure and evolution of the Sun and stars, to active galactic nuclei and the dark matter in clusters of galaxies. Stellar black holes and supermassive black holes are both subjects of active research at Yale.


Click here see the exhibit panels about black hole research at Yale.


Click here to view Professor Bailyn’s Introductory Course on Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics which includes several lectures on black holes. Open Yale Courses provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the internet.


See below for a short film “Seeing Black Holes” in which Yale professors Charles Bailyn and Meg Urry talk about the mysterious world of black holes. Professors Bailyn and Urry begin with a description of the two types of black hole -- stellar and supermassive -- and explain how astronomers look for and investigate objects that by their nature emit no observable radiation of any kind. This investigation uses both ground-based telescopes, such as the SMARTS telescope system in Chile, as well as space-based telescopes such as NASA's Fermi Gamma Ray telescope. The discussion then turns to current research at Yale that furthers our understanding of these powerful objects, how they affect the stars and galaxies around them, and what they tell us about the nature of the Universe.