20 February 2018, Tuesday, 7:45 PM, Presidio Observation Post
“Flares and Fireworks from Black Holes”
Dan Wilkins, PhD, KIPAC/Dept. of Physics, Stanford University
Black holes are some of the most exotic and extreme objects in the universe. Though they sound like the stuff of science fiction, they are real and much more common than you might think. Every galaxy has a black hole lurking at its center! Black holes are not actually black, because matter falling into black holes releases energy that can power some of the brightest objects we see in the night sky.
In this lecture you will find out exactly what a black hole is, how we can find them, and how they can flare intensely – giving rise to impressive firework displays and launching jets of vast plasma at close to the speed of light.
Dan Wilkins is an astrophysicist in the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2013. He held a postdoctoral position in Halifax, Nova Scotia under a fellowship from the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. In 2016, he joined KIPAC as an NASA-supported Einstein Fellow. Dan works on both observational and theoretical aspects of black hole physics to understand exactly how the most extreme objects in the Universe work, and he is a member of teams at NASA and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) that are developing next- ray observatories to study energetic cosmic sources powered by black holes.