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  Biermann lecturer explores the Ins and Outs of Black Holes

Biermann lecturer explores the Ins and Outs of Black Holes

Following a well-established tradition, the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics this year invites Prof. Christopher Reynolds from the University of Maryland as Biermann lecturer to the Munich area. Chris Reynolds research interests revolve mainly around black holes, from the astrophysics of the black holes (both stellar and supermassive) themselves to the physics of the material around them as well as the associated relativistic jets – and he will present various aspects of black hole physics in his lectures (see schedule below).

Credit: Reynolds, University of Maryland

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 lifted.

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 astrophysics.

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 surrounding institutes.

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.

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last modified: 2012-6-14