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Physics and Astronomy

Physics & Astronomy Colloquium

3:30 PM, Friday, December 10, 2010
Room 155, Chem-Phys Building

Dr. Andrew Hamilton
Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics
and Department of Astrophysical Sciences
University of Colorado, Boulder

The Physics of Black Hole Interiors: the Most Extreme Physics in the Universe
This talk will describe the best current understanding of the interior structure of astronomically realistic black holes. A common misconception is that matter falling into a black hole simply falls to a central singularity, and that's that. Reality is much more interesting. Rotating black holes have not only outer horizons, but also inner horizons. Penrose (1968) first pointed out that an infaller falling through the inner horizon would see the outside Universe infinitely blueshifted, and he speculated that this would destabilize the inner horizon. The expectation was supported by linear perturbation theory, but it was not until 1990 that Poisson and Israel were able to clarify the nonlinear evolution of the instability at the inner horizon, which they called mass inflation. Inflation accelerates ingoing (positive energy) and outgoing (negative energy) streams to exponentially huge energies. The black hole thus behaves like a particle accelerator of extraordinary power, accelerating ingoing and outgoing particles to collide with each other at super-Planckian energies. The talk raises the fundamental question: What does Nature do with this remarkable accelerator?

Refreshments will be served in CP 179 at 3:15 PM