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August 17 Lecture – Black Holes, Big and Small

Science at Cal Lecture Series

Black Holes, Big and Small-

A laser-guided adaptive optics view

with Dr. Jessica Lu

Saturday August 17, 2019 at 11:00 AM
131 Campbell Hall, UC Berkeley

Campbell Hall is on Upper campus. If coming by BART, allow 15-20 minutes to walk up the hill from our usual venues. Nearby public parking is available in the Upper Hearst Structure on Hearst and Gayley. Accessible spaces are available on University Drive near Campbell Hall.

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. Prof. Lu will present past, current, and upcoming experiments to hunt for the invisible stellar mass black holes and study how the supermassive black hole at the Galactic Center impacts its environment. These experiments utilize the power of the world’s largest telescopes equipped with laser-guide star adaptive optics to correct image blurring from the Earth’s turbulent atmosphere.  Prof. Lu will also discuss how advances in adaptive optics will sharpen our view of the Universe for black hole research and beyond.

A laser beam directed toward the centre of the Milky Way. Image:ESO/Yuri Beletsky

Dr. Jessica Lu

Jessica Lu received her undergraduate degree in physics from the MIT in 2000. She worked as a software engineer in silicon valley for 3 years before returning to academia to pursue her PhD in astronomy and astrophysics at UCLA, which was granted in 2008. After completing her PhD, she was awarded a Millikan Postdoctoral Fellowship in Observational Astronomy at Caltech. She was also an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) in the University of Hawaii, Manoa before joining the IfA faculty in 2013. In the summer of 2016, Jessica joined the faculty of the UC Berkeley astronomy department.

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