Bard Physics Professor Shuo Zhang Receives NASA Grant for Research on Galactic Center Supermassive Black Hole Sgr A*
NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a space telescope that detects high-energy X-ray light and studies some of the most energetic objects and processes in the universe. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is an international collaboration capturing images of black holes using a virtual Earth-sized telescope. Zhang’s investigation proposes an observation of Sgr A*, the now inactive supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. This research aims to capture bright X-ray flares from Sgr A* and feed this result to the EHT analysis. A secondary goal is to study a mysterious X-ray source located at merely three light years from Sgr A*.
“Among all the fascinating science one can pursue via a joint X-ray and EHT observations of our own supermassive black hole, the physics behind mysterious daily Sgr A* flares is the jewel in the crown that astronomers have been pursuing. I am proud of our own students, physics major Nathalie Jones ’21, dance and mathematics major Rose Xu ’23, and physics major Grace Sanger-Johnson ’23, who have contributed to this exciting project.” says Zhang.
This NASA grant supports the training and involvement of three Bard undergraduate research assistants who will work on the preparation and analysis of the new data during the summer of 2023. Under Zhang’s supervision, the Bard students will study NuSTAR data analysis pipeline, X-ray spectral and image analysis softwares, and will contribute to data preparation.
Since 2019, Zhang has received five grants from NASA for her astrophysics research, totaling more than $331,000 in NASA funding to date.
Post Date: 08-08-2022