June AstroTour – The Energetic Lives of Supermassive Black Holes

June 7th, 2018 – 9:00 PM (please note that the 8pm start time in our newsletter is incorrect)
Speaker: Dr. Rachael Alexandroff
MP103, McLennan Physical Laboratories (60 St. George Street)

Planetarium tickets will be handed out at 8:45PM outside of the lecture room on a first-come first-served basis. Any remaining planetarium tickets will be available after the talk.



Photo credit: NASA

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are some of the brightest objects in our universe- the result of supermassive black holes swallowing large amounts of gas and dust. We see them in every corner of our universe from the local neighbourhood near our galaxy to some of the farthest reaches of the cosmos.

Yet there is much we still don’t know about these sources. For example, how did they grow to be so big so early in the universe’s lifetime and what effect do they have on their host galaxies? I will provide a guided tour of the current state of our knowledge of AGN as well as discuss how future observatories will help us address some of the open questions we are still struggling to answer.

About the Speaker

Dr. Rachael Alexandroff studies feedback from actively accreting supermassive black holes (quasars) using a variety of multi-wavelength data in the radio to the X-ray. She previously identified the largest catalog of optically-selected obscured quasars in the early Universe and has been using this catalog to study how quasars effect their surroundings from the local environment to the entire host galaxy. In particular, she searches for observational signatures of quasar feedback to help constrain semi-analytic models of galaxy evolution.

She is interested in expanding her work on the radio properties of so-called radio-quiet, luminous quasars to study the energetics and effect of quasar winds on galaxy evolution and to search for dual supermassive black hole candidates in galaxy mergers.

Dr. Alexandroff received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University in July of 2017 after completing her undergraduate degree at Princeton University in 2012. She joined the University of Toronto as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in September 2017.

The U of T Astronomy Public Tour, or AstroTour, is a monthly event operated by the graduate students of the U of T Astronomy Department. The Tour features a public lecture by a member of the Department on topics ranging from their research to great moments in astronomical history. Following the lecture, tour-goers can peer at the night sky through the Department’s balcony and dome telescopes, or watch a planetarium show run live by astronomer. Admission to the tour is free. Seating for the lecture is on a first-come, first-served basis (doors open ten minutes before the start of the lecture), and the telescope observing is walk-in. The planetarium shows require tickets, which will be available at the event on a first-come first-served basis.

The AstroTours are generously financed by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Click here for more upcoming talks