Mason Science Series: Seeking the Invisible: Detecting Supermassive Black Holes in Space
Apr 27, 2021, 4:00 - 5:00 PM
We know that monstrous black holes, one million to several billion times the mass of the sun, lurk in the centers of almost every large galaxy in the universe. They can have a profound effect on those galaxies and are capable of giving rise to the loudest gravitation signals in the universe when they merge.
Shobita Satyapal, a physics and astronomy professor at George Mason University, discusses her group's recent research results in addition to several significant recent events in black hole astrophysics: the imaging of the event horizon of the M87 galaxy’s black hole; detection of colliding black holes from the LIGO interferometer; and the awarding of the 2020 Nobel Prize in physics to Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel for identifying the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
Dr. Satyapal is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at George Mason University. She was a postdoctoral researcher at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Prior to joining Mason, she was an instrument scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope at Goddard and Space Telescope Science Institute. Dr. Satyapal is currently working on the following projects: intermediate mass black holes, dual supermassive black holes, and supermassive black holes in bulgeless and low mass galaxies. Her research centers on understanding the connection between the growth and evolution of supermassive black holes and the host galaxies in which they reside. She utilizes space- and ground-based multi-wavelength data from Chandra, XMM-Newton, WISE, Spitzer, the Very Large Array (VLA), Gemini, the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), and Keck. Dr. Satyapal in recent years has been focused on teaching upper level undergraduate physics courses. In past years, she enjoyed teaching physics for non-science majors, and astrophysics courses for upper level undergraduates and graduate students.