Goal: Monitor radio emission generated by black holes to understand how they affect and are affected by their environment.
 
Motivation:
  • Not all material near black hole necessarily falls into it!
  • Some material forms into jets -> long columns of material moving at high speeds and producing radio emission, but we don't understand how
  • Black hole jets can affect the galaxy around the black hole
  • GAVRT monitors radio emission from black hole produced jets to help understand these processes
  • Complements NASA's Fermi mission
This study focuses on some of the oldest known objects in our Universe, quasars.  Quasars or quasi-stellar objects appear to resemble point sources of light like stars, but their radiation emission is much more intense.  The typical quasar puts out more energy each second than our Sun does in 200 years.  What is the source of this intense energy emission?  Scientists believe it to be supermassive black holes many times the mass of our Sun.  The Black Hole Patrol campaign involves students collecting data on these objects.  The initial module focuses on quasars that are "winking" or scintillating and explores the effects of the interstellar medium on this scintillation process.  Teamed with GAVRT students and teachers in schools across the globe, we can use DSS-13 to build an extended-time set of data on selected quasars showing significant variability, thereby laying the groundwork for meaningful interpretation of our data.  As we add our new data to the growing database, it will allow us to examine and consider these periods of fluctuation, ourselves.  Students and scientists alike will benefit by this mutual collaboration, teamed together in the on-going endeavor of science - to hold in the infinite complexity of our minds an understanding of an infinite Universe.