A Day in the Life of a Super-Massive Black Hole

Date: Wednesday, 1 October, 2014 - Friday, 8 August, 2014

Time: 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM

Venue: Kerr Grant Theatre

Location: 2nd Floor Physics Building, University of Adelaide North Tce Campus

Presented by Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn - School of Physics, University of Sydney

Sgr A* is a hundred times closer than any other supermassive black hole. It is surrounded by a highly unstable gas disk so why is the accretion disk so peaceful at the present time? This mystery has led to a flurry of models in order to explain why Sgr A* is radiating far below (1 part in 10^8) the Eddington maximum accretion limit. But has this always been so? Evidence is gathering that Sgr A* has been far more active in the recent past, on timescales of thousands of years and longer. The x-ray wind discovered by the speaker, the gamma-ray bubbles discovered by Fermi, and so on, are suggestive of something truly spectacular in the recent past. We present exciting new evidence that the Galactic Centre was a full-blown explosive galaxy just two million years ago. The echo of this incredible event can be seen today imprinted along the Magellanic Stream.

Bio: Joss Bland-Hawthorn was born and raised in England before moving overseas in 1985. After receiving his PhD from the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the University of Sussex, he took a 3-year postdoc in astrophysics at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii. In the years 1988-1993, he was a tenured professor at the Space Physics & Astronomy Department, Rice University, Texas. In 1993, he became a senior research astronomer at the Anglo-Australian Observatory, Sydney. In 2007, he was awarded a prestigious Federation Fellowship which came with a tenured professorship in the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIFA), School of Physics, University of Sydney. In 2009, he co-founded the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science (IPOS) at the University of Sydney. In 2010, Joss was Leverhulme Professor at the University of Oxford and held a Visiting Senior Fellowship at Merton College, Oxford. In 2011, he was the Brittingham Scholar at the University of Wisconsin, USA. He has won numerous awards including the Jackson Gwilt medal from the Royal Astronomical Society (2012). In that year, he was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Optical Society of America. Joss serves on several boards including Section H (IAU) and the Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics (USA).

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