Supermassive Black Holes: Monsters Lurking in the Hearts of Galaxies

May 15, 2024 - 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Hewlett Teaching Center, Room 200 and online - Register here

Dr. Dan Wilkins (KIPAC/Stanford)

Supermassive Black Holes

About the Lecture

Black holes are some of the most exotic and extreme objects in the Universe. Though they may sound like the stuff of science fiction, they are real and much more common than you may think; every galaxy has one lurking at its center! In this talk, we will explore exactly what a supermassive black hole is and how we can find them. I will share how the latest data from an array of telescopes across the Earth and in space are revealing what is happening to material in its final moments before it plunges through the event horizon. From these observations, we are learning how material falling into supermassive black holes powers some of the most spectacular celestial light shows, so powerful that they have a profound effect on the development of structure in the Universe as we see it today.

Register for the lecture

Dan Wilkins

About the Speaker

Dr. Dan Wilkins is a research scientist in the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University. His research focuses on supermassive black holes, discovering how matter plunging into them powers some of the most extreme objects we see in the Universe, and the important role they played in the formation of the Universe as we know it today. Alongside his black hole research, Dan is working with NASA and the European Space Agency to develop some of the next generation of space telescopes.Dan received his doctorate in Astronomy from the University of Cambridge in 2013. After a short research fellowship in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he was awarded NASA’s prestigious Einstein Fellowship which brought him to Stanford in 2016. Dan has a passion for communicating science to the public and helping people explore the wonders of the night sky. He regularly gives talks to a wide variety of audiences, from universities to astronomical societies, schools and even on-board cruise ships, regularly giving talks and hosting stargazing evenings and planetarium shows on Transatlantic sailings of Queen Mary 2, and has appeared on TV and radio on both sides of the Atlantic.

Directions and Parking

This event will take place in the Hewlett Teaching Center (370 Jane Stanford Way) on the Stanford campus. Upon arrival, please check in in the foyer of the building and follow signs for Room 200.

The closest visitor parking is in the Via Ortega Garage and along the Stanford Oval. All parking is free in spaces marked Visitor, A, or C after 4pm unless indicated otherwise. Accessible parking is also available along the Stanford Oval.

If you plan to take public transportation, some lines of the Marguerite Shuttle connect between the Palo Alto Transit Center and the campus. You can get to the Hewlett Teaching Center by taking Line P (drops off at the Stanford Oval), Line X (drops off at the ChEM-H Building on Jane Stanford Way), and Line Y (picks up across from the ChEM-H Building on Jane Stanford Way). A complete list of shuttle schedules and route maps can be found here.