ASTRO 210: Black Holes in the Universe

 Section 1, Spring 2015



Lecture:  Monday, Wednesday & Friday

Location: J. C. Long, room 219

Time: MWF 2:00pm - 2:50pm



Instructor: Dr. George Chartas

Office: 206 J. C. Long

Office hours: MWF : 3:00 - 4:00 pm

Phone: (843) 953-3609



A preliminary outline of the course can be found at the SCHEDULE website. Some of this material is subject to change and this site will be constantly up-dated so please check it before each class.




Required materials:

The required textbook for the course is

GravityŐs Fatal Attraction, Black Holes in the Universe Second Edition by Mitchell Begelman and Martin Rees.


Recommended textbook for the course is Black Holes and Time Warps, EinsteinŐs Outrageous Legacy by Kip S. Thorne


Course Objectives:

Ever wonder what it would be like to cross the event horizon of a black hole, or whether time travel was possible?  Find out how you can travel in a round trip close to the speed of light to find out that your friend has aged when you return.  Will the Large Hadron Collider create mini black holes and is it safe?  Learn about how black holes drag space along as they rotate and do so with Ňno hairÓ.


This course will cover the strange predicted properties of black holes and describe observations of objects that we think harbor them.


Learning Outcomes:


Demonstrate conceptual understanding (through quizzes, projects, and tests) of the following topics:


-  Understand Einstein's theory of special relativity as it applies to length contraction, and time dilation.


- Understand  EinsteinŐs theory of general relativity as it applies to the equivalence principle, space-time, and the prediction of black holes.


-  Describe Stellar Evolution and the fate of stars (Brown Dwarfs, White Dwarfs, Neutron stars, Black holes)


-  Describe the techniques used for the detection of stellar mass black holes


-  Describe the current paradigm of active galactic nuclei.


-  Explain contemporary theories of Dark Matter and describe methods to detect it.


- Describe the current paradigm of Gamma Ray Bursts


-  Describe recent observations of the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way


- Explain Gravitational Waves and describe methods to detect them.

- Explain Feedback between black holes and their environments


- Explain Miniholes and the Hawking Effect

I recommend that you review the material before it is presented in class. This will help you to better understand the concepts and enjoy the class. I expect your active participation in the class.















CREDIT: This is a three-credit course.


PREREQUISITES: This course is designed for non-science majors. Advanced mathematics is not required; only high-school level math will be used occasionally.

PRESENTATIONS:  Every student will be expected to contribute to a 20-minute presentation on a topic related to material covered in the course. You will work in groups of two to prepare and present the research talk.

The presentation may be in PowerPoint, keynote, overhead or blackboard. It should include a list of references and each student should present a portion of the talk.


There will be three dates near the end of the semester allocated to these research presentations.




Midterm Exams and Quizzes:

There will be 2 midterm exams over the semester. Several quizzes will be given during lectures. The quizzes will be based on material already presented in lectures. There will be a final exam that will cover most of the material presented in the lectures.








Your final grade will be calculated as follows:




Presentation and Participation







Your number grade will be converted into a letter grade as follows.





























Special Needs

If you have any special needs or disabilities that might require special arrangements to be made for any aspect of this course, please let me know at the beginning of the semester or as soon as you become aware of them.



Class Policies:

Cellular technology:  Please respect your classmates and keep your cellular devices off.


Violations of the College of Charleston Honor Code (including cheating or attempted cheating) will be referred to the Office of Student Affairs for adjudication. Examples of cheating include copying test or quiz answers, using cellular technology to communicate information during a test or quiz, copying homework answers verbatim from an external source.