Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Science Lecture Series Explores Black Holes and Gravity Power March 22

MELBOURNE, FLA.—The next Science Lecture Series presentation at Florida Institute of Technology will be given by Andy Robinson, School of Physics and Astronomy, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Robinson will outline key properties of black holes and how their presence is inferred in various astrophysical systems. The free March 22 lecture, from 8 to 9 p.m., will be in the F.W. Olin Engineering Complex, Room EC118, on campus. There will be a rooftop public star viewing following the presentation if weather permits.

What are black holes and why do astronomers believe they exist? At least two families of black holes may be distinguished by their masses. Among these are about 100 million objects with masses comparable to that of the Sun, which pervade our galaxy and are formed in the death throes of massive stars.

Supermassive black holes with masses reaching a billion times that of the Sun, on the other hand, are thought to reside in the centers of most, if not all, galaxies, including our own. As the gravitational engines of enormously powerful energy sources known as quasars, central supermassive black holes profoundly shape the evolution of their host galaxies.

Robinson joined RIT in 2003 after his tenure at the University of Herfordshire, United Kingdom. After receiving his doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Manchester in 1985, he worked as a post-doc at the European Southern Observatory and the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Cambridge. He was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 1990 and held this appointment for 10 years. Robinson's research interests focus on nuclear activity in galaxies and, in particular, the processes that regulate energy release by accretion onto supermassive black holes.

The F.W. Olin Engineering Complex is located on West University Boulevard. For more information, call (321) 674-7207or visit