TROY professor publishes book on black holes

Posted: Thursday, 05 November 2009

TROY, Ala.—Troy University professor Dr. Govind Menon has presented his theories on black holes at the Washington, D.C. 2009 Fermi Symposium.

In collaboration with Dr. Charles Dermer, an astrophysicist in the Space Science Division of the Naval Research Laboratory, Menon described black holes as the sources of the highest energy photon and particle radiations.

Their new book, “High Energy Radiation for Black Holes” published by Princeton University Press, present a systematic exposition of black-hole astrophysics and general relativity in order to understand how gamma rays, cosmic rays, and neutrinos are produced by black holes.

“I have always been interested in space and time -- which is what a black hole is made of,” said Dr. Menon, a professor of mathematics and physics. “I approach these issues from a mathematical point of view while my co-author, in the Naval Research Lab, understands its applications and realizations in nature.”

Beginning with Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity, the authors give a detailed mathematical description of fundamental astrophysical radiation processes, including Compton scattering of electrons and photons, synchrotron radiation of particles in magnetic fields, photohadronic interactions of cosmic rays with photons, gamma-ray attenuation, Fermi acceleration, and the Blandford-Znajek mechanism for energy extraction from rotating black holes.

The book provides a basis for graduate students and researchers in the field to interpret the latest results from high-energy observatories, and helps resolve whether energy released by rotating black holes powers the highest-energy radiations in nature.

“My book is for the specialist, in particular, for the seasoned black hole astrophysicist. Graduate students in the field may find the information useful as well,” said Dr. Menon.

The 2009 Fermi Symposium is dedicated to results and prospects for scientific exploration of the universe with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and related studies. The symposium comes shortly after the Fermi data release, offering an opportunity for the astrophysical community to share in the excitement of discoveries being made with the Fermi instruments.