Department of Astronomy & Physics

New Blackhole Flare Observations Support Lamppost Model

Blackhole flare

In this artist impression, the blackhole, the accretion disk, and the purple corona are shown. In sequence, the corona creates, along a jet, a flare of X-rays. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Post-doctoral Fellow Dan Wilkins, working with Professor Luigi Gallo, from the Department of Astronomy and Physics at Saint Mary's University, interpreted X-ray observations obtained from NASA's Swift and Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescopic Array as evidence for the Lamppost Model that describes the topology of material around a blackhole that illuminates the black hole's accreation disk. The data suggest that the corona "surrounding" the blackhole first shrunk around the blackhole and then, through some mechanism that is not understood at this time, shot away material from the blackhole in a  pulse-like beam. The base of the beam/jet then appeared to collapse again around the blackhole. Their analysis of the observed flare links, for the first time, the behaviour and configuration of the corona and the jet.

Their results, [authored by, D.R. Wilkins, L. C. Gallo, D. Grupe (Space Science Center, Kentucky) , K. Bonson (Astronomy Ph.D. student, SMU), S. Komossa (Max-Planck-Institut fur Radioastronomie, Bonn), and A.C. Fabian (Cambridge)] will appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (arXiv e-print). Click here to link to NASA's website where this important discovery is described in detail.

 Click Here for Colloquia


New Posting Image
June 15, 2020
Fall 2020 news
Fall 2020 news for all astronomy and physics students:

2019 Annual MacLennan Memorial Lecture in Astronomy
October 23, 2019
2019 Annual MacLennan Memorial Lecture in Astronomy
2019 Annual MacLennan Memorial Lecture in Astronomy
October 22, 2019
Undergraduate student publishes in prestigious journal
Fourth year undergraduate Honours student Sophia Wadell publishes original research in prestigious journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
October 4, 2019
Dr. Rituparna Kanungo named Fellow of APS
Dr. Rituparna Kanungo named Fellow of prestigious American Physics Society.

Lingjian Chen M.Sc. defence
August 19, 2019
Lingjian Chen defence M.Sc. thesis
Lingjian Chen defends M.Sc. thesis

January 17, 2020, AT 101
Undergrad Career Seminar I
Jean-Marc Samson and Fernando Pena-Silva

November 22, 2019, Atrium 101
Satellite Galaxies as Tracers of Dark Matter Halos
Dr. Tereasa Brainerd (Boston University)

November 8, 2019, Atrium 101
Uncovering the nature of dark matter with stellar streams in the Milky Way
Dr. Ana Bonaca (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

November 1, 2019, Atrium 101
Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan (Yale University)