The Supermassive Black Hole at the Galactic Center
The Galactic Center provides a unique laboratory to study the environment around the nearest example of a supermassive black hole (SMBH). Several things still remain unclear about the dynamic and chaotic environment surrounding the SMBH, including the presence of what appear to be young stars near the SMBH, the lack of old stars, and the presence of a group of cold, large objects that get remarkably close to the SMBH. I will discuss each of these topics and the exciting close passage of a short-period star to the SMBH in 2018, which may allow for a test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
Breann Sitarski received her Ph.D in 2016 from UCLA, where she was part of the Galactic Center Group. Her dissertation involved characterizing a population of cold, large sources that might be tidally interacting with the supermassive black hole. In addition, she studied the adaptive optics system for the twin Keck 10-meter telescopes in an effort to increase the fidelity of data-reduction techniques and post-processing. Breann remains actively involved in public education and outreach and has helped organize the large science fair, Exploring Your Universe, on UCLA’s campus since its inception in 2009.
"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by Chris Butler
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