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Black Holes

Program(s): Undergraduate Courses, Summer College

*Taught Online for Summer 2021*  White dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes, the so-called compact objects, are among the most remarkable object in the universe. Their most distinctive feature which ultimately is the one responsible for their amazing properties is their prodigiously high density.  All compact objects are the product of the final stages of stellar evolution. White dwarfs have masses comparable to that of the Sun but with the size of the Earth, they come from "smallish" stars that run out of nuclear fuel and settle down to a quiet life of slowly fading away.

Neutron stars and black holes come from much more massive stars that end their lives in a spectacular explosion known as a supernova.  In a neutron star the mass of the Sun is concentrated in the size of a city. The density is so high that even electron and proton get squished together to form neutrons (hence the name). In a black hole the density is so high that nothing can counter gravity and eventually the collapsing star folds the space-time around itself and disappears inside a "surface of no return”- the event horizon.

In this course we will address the progenitor problem--which stars become which compact object. We will examine the properties of each type of compact object and address the issue of their remarkable structure. For the case of black holes, we will see that they are completely geometrical, and in some real sense, the most perfect objects in the universe.

Course Considerations

Students must have taken pre-calculus before enrolling. 

Course Overview

Current Grade / Education Level

11th Grade
12th Grade
Undergrad / Grad


Undergraduate Courses
Summer College

Start Date

July 12

End Date

July 29

Class Details

Primary Instructor

Fausto Cattaneo

Academic Interest

Physical Sciences (e.g., astronomy, physics)

Class Specifics

Course Code

ASTR 12610 91

Class Day(s)

Mon Wed Fri

Class Duration (CST)


4:30 P.M.


Session II

Course Length

3 weeks