Introducing Peter Boorman

Peter Boorman (@boorm) is a PhD student at the University of Southampton in the UK, where he currently studies hidden monster supermassive black holes actively growing at the centres of galaxies.  These black holes grow by eating material surrounding them which can also act to conceal the active galactic nucleus (AGN) from our view.  This is why Peter relies on high-energy X-ray vision (courtesy of X-ray telescopes in space such as @NASANuSTAR!) to be able to stare through the obscuring layers of gas concealing the AGN, and reveal the hungry black hole lurking beneath.  However, much like Superman’s X-ray vision being blocked by lead, the densest and thickest layers of obscuring gas can even stop the highest energy X-rays from escaping some heavily obscured black holes.
Despite their apparent rarity, it is predicted that there are a very high number of these hiding supermassive black holes out there in the Universe that just haven’t been found yet.  These AGN are essential for understanding the evolution of all supermassive black holes, and hence all galaxies hosting them since the dawn of the Universe over 13 billion years ago.  With observations of galaxies in the local Universe, Peter will figure out how many obscured AGN there are on average, and how many have been missed in the past.  When Peter isn’t spying on the most obscured black hole banquets in the Universe, he enjoys baking cakes and cooking lots of different recipes, as well as running long distances to burn it off!
Advertisements

Introducing Stephanie Hamilton

Stephanie Hamilton (@StephHamy820) is a PhD student in physics at the University of Michigan, though she considers herself an adult-onset astronomer. She is studying the orbits of the small bodies beyond Neptune in order learn more about the Solar System’s formation and evolution. As an additional perk, she gets to travel the world as part of the Dark Energy Survey Collaboration and has acquired several new stamps in her passport over the past few years.

 

Stephanie is also a passionate science communicator, spending a large part of whatever free time she gets talking to kids about astronomy at the University of Michigan’s Natural History Museum or at the Detroit Zoo, writing articles for Astrobites or the Michigan Science Writers, and helping train other scientists to communicate their research through the ComSciCon franchise (specifically ComSciCon-MI 2018, for which she is a leading organizer) or the RELATE organization at Michigan.

 

When she’s not studying the outer solar system or telling people about it, she loves to play tennis, practice yoga, plan future travel adventures, or force her cat to cuddle with her.

Introducing Kendall Sullivan

Kendall Sullivan (@kendall_sull) is a research assistant at Lowell Observatory, in Flagstaff, AZ. Her research currently focuses on star-disk interactions in young binary stars, especially the various weird ways material can accrete onto young binaries, and how evolving in a binary affects young stars’ evolution. Before working at Lowell, Kendall received her BS in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she studied the magnetic fields of edge-on spiral galaxies and gaseous companions to starbursting dwarf galaxies before discovering how cool young stars are. In August, Kendall will be moving to the Astronomy PhD program at the University of Texas at Austin. Kendall currently spends most of the time she’s not working on her own research working on other people’s research, but outside of the office she enjoys cooking, drinking good beer, and picking up heavy things (and setting them back down).