As the name implies, black holes cannot be seen – but nevertheless the latest
generation of X-ray observatories has produced a wealth of data about their
immediate surroundings, which can be extremely hot. Reynolds and his group use
these observations to study Active Galactic Nuclei and galactic black hole
candidates, in particular the inner relativistic accretion disks. One of the
most interesting questions is whether the black hole rotates, but measuring the
rotation is difficult. Not only is the effect of a rotating black hole on its
surroundings very subtle, moreover, several different physical models can fit
the same spectroscopic data. On the theoretical front, Reynolds therefore
studies the physics of accretion discs and how many of these degeneracies can be
Chris Reynolds is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Director of the
Joint Space Science Institute (JSI) at the University of Maryland. He received
his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 1996, after
which he moved to the University of Colorado at Boulder as a Postdoctoral
Researcher and then a Hubble Fellow. He was appointed onto the faculty at the
University of Maryland in 2001 where he has since maintained a research group
working on the properties and environment impact of accreting black holes. Chris
Reynolds won several prizes, notably the Helen B. Warner Prize for 2005 from the
American Astronomical Society in recognition of his work on black hole
The Biermann lecture series, which started in 1997, aims to stimulate scientific
activities across the Munich astronomical community and has been very successful
in previous years. World-class scientists working on topics in theoretical and
computational astrophysics are invited to spend one month in Garching, give a
series of prize lectures and interact with colleagues from the various
Biermann lectures 2012 by Prof. Christopher Reynolds (University of Maryland)
Wednesday, June 20:
"The astrophysics of black hole spin"
Wednesday, June 27:
"The physics of accretion disks - what lies beyond viscous theory?"
Wednesday, July 11:
"Booms, flashes and echos - probing relativistic physics with X-ray reverberation"
All lectures will start at 15:30 in the new seminar room at MPE and will be preceded by tea, coffee and cookies at 15:15.