Despite their constant presence in sci-fi, black holes remain enigmatic to most people. What are they? What do they do? Do they even really exist? In this talk, I will debunk the movie tropes and discuss what exactly a black hole is, why they are so hard to find, and how we can circumvent that difficulty and find them anyways. From detecting gravitational waves created by two black holes smashing into each other, to watching stars orbit the supermassive black hole at the center of our own galaxy, we will go through the insight and innovation that has led to our modern understanding of black holes.
Fatima is a third year PhD student in the UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy. She graduated from the University of Maryland in 2015 with degrees in physics, astronomy, and Arabic studies. Over the years, her research has spanned the spectrum of astronomical subjects and techniques, from observational studies of black holes and active galactic nuclei, to numerical simulations of dust dynamics in the Pluto-Charon system, as well as work in instrumentation and physics/astronomy education. Currently, she works on two fronts: ground layer adaptive optics, and gravitational microlensing, both with her research advisor, Dr. Jessica Lu. In addition to her research, she enjoys science communication, and tries to be involved in public science talks and events whenever she has the chance.