Astronomy Day at TWC features black holes

Astronomy Day at TWC features black holes

The Wilderness Center will host Astronomy Day on its YouTube channel with a live event to learn about black holes.


On Saturday, May 15, The Wilderness Center will host Astronomy Day on its YouTube channel with a live event to learn about black holes.

A lineup of speakers will explain what is known about black holes and the ongoing research by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory scientific collaboration and the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration.

The first speaker will be Dr. Patrick Durrell, distinguished professor in the department of physics and astronomy and director of the Ward Beecher Planetarium at Youngstown State University. His presentation is titled “Black Holes Both Big and Small.” He will highlight some of what is known about these strange objects including stellar-mass black holes and the much larger supermassive black holes. He also will focus on how to find these different kinds of black holes.

The second speaker is Dr. Keith Riles, H. Richard Crane professor of physics at the University of Michigan. Riles leads the Michigan Gravitational Wave Group and is a member of the LIGO scientific collaboration that made the September 2015 discovery of merging black holes.

The Michigan Group is an integral part of the LIGO scientific collaboration. The era of gravitational wave astronomy began on Sept. 14, 2015, via the discovery of a massive binary black hole merger by the two LIGO detectors. Since that first detection, many more black hole mergers have been observed by LIGO and by its partner, the VIRGO detector in Italy.

Riles’ presentation is titled “Detecting Invisible Black Holes with Gravitational Waves.” Riles will present discoveries learned from these detections and the prospects for future detections.

The third speaker is Dr. Angelo Ricarte, post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Black Hole Initiative. As a member of the EHT collaboration, he is an expert in making polarized images of plasma swirling around black holes. His presentation is titled “Imaging Black Holes with the Event Horizon Telescope.”

The EHT collaboration produced the first resolved image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87. Ricarte will discuss these EHT observations and what has been learned about the black hole’s accretion flow. As there is more science to be done, he will discuss future steps including ideas to extend the EHT by going into space.

Astronomy Day black hole kits will be available for kids. The kits will include black hole information, materials to build a model black hole and a Pringle can planetarium, and pages to make your own black hole book and black hole coloring pages. The kits are suggested for kids grade 2-5, but younger and older kids may enjoy the activities too.

Kits are free but limited. Call The Wilderness Center to reserve a kit. Kits will be available for pickup beginning May 8.

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