Astro Night

Thu, June 06, 2019

Ressler Astro Night 6 6

Title: How To Draw A Fuzzy Doughnut:  A Portrait of The Largest Black Hole In The Milky Way 


Good people of the Bay, I don’t mean to alarm you, but there is currently a gigantic black hole more than a million times more massive than the sun sitting our own galactic backyard.  Even worse, it is growing by the minute.  Rest assured, however, that we astronomers are not sitting idly by but have been painstakingly monitoring for years now, gathering clues as to its history, how it feeds, and the radiation that it emits.  What’s more, a new tool was recently added to our arsenal in the form of the now famed Event Horizon Telescope.  This landmark scientific achievement will finally make it possible to take a direct snapshot of the shadow cast by this gravitational beast.  In this talk, I will first summarize what black holes are and what we have learned about the particularly massive one at the heart of The Milky Way.  Then I will discuss how we use this information to construct our own theoretical images, how they might compare to the real thing, and what we can learn from them about the black hole and its environment.   So should we be panicking?  Are your kids safe?  Attend this talk and find out.


Sean is a finishing UC Berkeley graduate student in physics/astronomy expecting to receive his PhD by the end of the summer.  Formerly a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow but not yet a Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics Postdoctoral Fellow, as of right now he is just a good fellow.  His thesis work uses numerical simulations to study how the winds of nearby massive stars feed the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy.  He is also involved in work that models Event Horizon Telescope observations with simulations.