Born on 6 March 1938 in Bengaluru, India, C. V. Vishveshwara was a physicist whose crucial insights into black holes began before scientists were even sure that black holes exist. He came to the US for his graduate work and earned a PhD from the University of Maryland, working under leading gravity and general relativity researcher Charles Misner. Over the course of his doctoral studies, Vishveshwara authored three important theoretical analyses of black holes. He analyzed the structure in and around a black hole by characterizing the ergosphere and demonstrating that the event horizon is a point of no return. He showed that black holes aren’t fleeting objects—they can remain stable after their formation from the collapse of giant stars. And in a 1970 Nature paper, Vishveshwara described the patterns of gravitational radiation that could be emitted by black holes. That study proved vital last year, when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detected a strong burst of radiation that was consistent with the inspiral of two intermediate-mass black holes. Just after the merger came the ringdown, a wave pattern that looked exactly like Vishveshwara said it would in his 1970 paper. Vishveshwara also wrote a popular science book and was an accomplished cartoonist. In 1989 he founded the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium in Bengaluru. He died in January 2017. (Photo credit: LIGO-India)
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C. V. Vishveshwara
6 March 2017
The work of the Indian physicist, who specialized in black holes, helped enable LIGO’s celebrated first direct detection of gravitational waves.
© 2017 American Institute of Physics