Jessica Lu (University of California, Berkeley)
Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy
College Station, Texas 77843
This seminar has been postponed for Fall 2019.Black holes come in at least two varieties. Supermassive black holes lay at the centers of galaxies and, while not theoretically predicted, have been definitively proven to exist using observations of stars’ orbits at the heart of the Milky Way. Stellar mass black holes are predicted to exist in large numbers -- 100 million in our Galaxy alone -- but only two dozen have been found, all in binaries. I will present past, current, and upcoming experiments that utilize the power of laser-guide star adaptive optics to hunt for the invisible stellar mass black holes and study how the supermassive black hole at the Galactic Center impacts its environment. These projects require high precision measurements of stars’ positions and brightness, which has led to a number of novel developments in image modeling for adaptive optics that I will discuss. I will also present first on-sky results from the ‘imaka project, which is a new adaptive optics system with the widest-ever field of view.
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