Home > News and Events > 2000 > Free Public Lecture on Exploring Black Holes Set for 19 March

Free Public Lecture on Exploring Black Holes Set for 19 March

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Niel Brandt, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, will present a free public lecture titled "X-raying the Environments of Supermassive Black Holes" at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, in 101 Thomas Building on Penn State's University Park Campus.

Brandt's research focuses on supermassive black holes that lie at the hearts of galaxies with very active centers, known as active galactic nuclei.  Brandt uses data collected from NASA's recently launched Chandra and X-ray Multi-Mirror observatories to view the material in the galaxy├şs nucleus.  By analyzing the spectra and variability of the X-rays, Brandt hopes to determine the precise mechanisms by which X-rays are emitted and to measure the rates at which the supermassive black holes are swallowing matter.  His research is supported by a fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a five-year grant from NASA's Long-Term Space Astrophysics program.

Brandt earned his bachelor's degree in physics at the California Institute of Technology in 1992 and his doctoral degree at the Cambridge University Institute of Astronomy in England in 1996.  He was a Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics from 1996 until 1997, when he joined the faculty at Penn State.

Brandt's talk is the third in a series of five lectures planned for this academic year.  The lectures are hosted by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and are funded largely by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy.  Mr. Friedman is a member of the department's Board of Visitors.

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