Supermassive black holes are the most powerful persistent sources of energy in the Universe. They power the emission of radiation in every waveband that humans have learned to study, from long, low-energy radio waves to blistering gamma rays. Humans have learned to study these immense, mysterious objects using instruments designed to detect light at all of these wavelengths, as well as how that light varies over time as black holes consume matter and expel energy. Find out how worldwide efforts using instruments on Earth and in space, along with the development of the field of time domain astrophysics, have allowed us to build a dynamic, multicolor, multifaceted image of black holes that helps explain their bizarre physics and the powerful effects they have on the galaxies that host them.
Dr. Krista Lynne Smith recently completed a NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship at KIPAC and has joined the faculty in the Physics department at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, her hometown, as an assistant professor. Prior to coming to Stanford, she received her undergraduate degree in Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin and her PhD from the University of Maryland, where she worked jointly at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Krista’s research focuses primarily on supermassive black holes and their host galaxies, but also has published works and an ongoing interest in gamma ray bursts, star formation, and the habitability of exoplanets. She is a passionate advocate for equity and inclusion in physics and astronomy, and is dedicated to improving the accessibility and climate of the field for groups that have historically faced exclusionary practices and attitudes. Krista is also an amateur home chef, Dallas Cowboys football fan, and a lifelong Trekkie.