March 13th Meeting & Lecture

Microquasars: What Can We Learn From Them (and Why Bother)?

Diana Hannikainen, PhD
Observing Editor, Sky & Telescope Magazine

Friday, March 13th, 7:30 PM
Wilcox Hall, Pace University, Pleasantville

Most of us are familiar with quasars – supermassive black holes in galaxies far away – and their iconic jets that spew matter at relativistic velocities into intergalactic space. Less well known are their smaller cousins, the quasars’ miniature counterparts that we call – for reasons that shall become obvious – “microquasars.” What does unite the two classes of object is the process of accretion around a black hole and the subsequent ejection of matter at speeds approaching that of light. In this talk, you’ll hear about the history of microquasars, how we use X-ray and radio observations to understand them better, and what they can tell us about the behavior of matter in extreme gravitational fields.

Diana Hannikainen studied for her BSc in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and then moved to Finland, in part to explore her Finnish roots. While there, she embarked on graduate studies at the University of Helsinki, and received an MSc followed by a PhD in Astrophysics, the latter in conjunction with the University of Sydney in Australia. The subject of her PhD thesis was multiwavelength observations (X-ray, radio) of microquasars, a topic she continued throughout her time in research. A couple of years ago, she switched careers and moved to Cambridge, MA, to take up the position of Observing Editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.