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NYC - Public Lecture Series feat. Zoltan Haiman

The Life and Times of Black Holes
Throughout Cosmic Time

This event will be streamed live. Please visit our Live Stream page at 7pm on the evening of the event to view the lecture for free.

Black holes are a fascinating prediction of Einstein’s general relativity theory. Over the last 10 years or so, astronomers have accumulated convincing evidence that black holes not only actually exist, but are ubiquitous in nature. They are found to reside at the center of every galaxy, some close enough to study in detail. Extremely large black holes, several billion times heavier than our own Sun, are also known to have formed already within a mere 700 million years after the Big Bang. The rapid assembly of such large black holes is currently an unsolved puzzle in astrophysics.

I will describe a possible solution to this puzzle, based on our current understanding of how the first stars formed a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. These stars were very different from the stars that occupy galaxies today, 14 billion years later. They were much more massive, leaving behind small “stellar-mass” seed black holes at the end of their lives. These small black holes can later gain weight by the gas that spirals into them, and can build up bigger black holes by merging frequently.

Remarkably, the formative era, in which these first cosmic objects formed, is not hopelessly beyond our current horizon of astronomical observations, and may be revealed by future telescopes. In addition to normal electromagnetic radiation, during their merger, a black hole pair emits copious amounts of gravitational waves. These gravitational waves can also be detected by future space-based detectors, and serve as an alternative test of our cosmic structure formation theories.

Zoltan Haiman is a theoretical astrophysicist and cosmologist at Columbia University. He was planning to become an architect, but as an undergraduate at MIT, he became fascinated by the many open questions in astrophysics and cosmology. In his PhD research at Harvard University, he pioneered the basic theoretical understanding of how the first generation stars formed in the universe, a subject that has since developed into a major research area in cosmology. As a postdoctoral fellow at Fermilab and at Princeton, and now as a professor in the Astronomy Department at Columbia University, he has continued working on a broad range of theoretical problems in astrophysics and cosmology, including the assembly of the first galaxies and the end of the cosmic dark age; the nature of dark matter, dark energy, and the acceleration of the universe; and, most recently, understanding the process of mergers between supermassive black holes. He was named as one of the top 10 young scientists in the U.S. by Popular Science magazine in 2002, and was a winner of the 2010 Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists from the New York Academy of Sciences for "highly innovative, impactful, and interdisciplinary accomplishments in the life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering". Together with his students and collaborators, he has co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Date: 2/23/2015

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: Free

Guest Ticket Price: $20

Student Ticket Price:

Free for EC Student Members, $5 w/ valid Student ID

Reservation Notes:

Reservations are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To procure a reservation, call us at 212.628.8383, or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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