S t e v e  M u r r a y
Instrument Builder and Chandra X-ray astronomer
Chandra X-ray Observatory

Steve and the HRC aboard Chandra.
Why do you study black holes (BHs), and what makes you interested/fascinated by them?

BH's are interesting to me for several reasons. First is the challenge of just proving that they exist. The idea of showing directly the effects of an event horizon is exciting. The idea of observing at the edge of the observable is like climbing a mountain because it is there.

Second is the connection of BH's to General Relativity and using measurements to test the validity of this theory that is so hard to test in the everyday world of our experiences. To find that Einstein is still right at places where the very fabric of space-time is being so distorted is very satisfying--and of course if we find otherwise it is beyond all words!

Finally, since I cannot be that imaginary scientist being stretched and compressed (ed. note: see Kip Thorne's excellent general interest book, BLACK HOLES AND TIME WARPS), this study of BH's is as close as I can come to going to a BH. What place in the Universe could be more strange and interesting to visit?

Steve in the clean room.
What would you most like to know about BHs?

How many are there, where are they all? How do they evolve? Were any made initially from the Big Bang, or only from stellar cores? Do BH's somehow form wormholes or other strange constructs that might connect far separated places in the Universe?

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