Hunting Monster Black Holes

by Kate Becker

It’s a basic scary-movie rule: Never show the big, bad monster. Show his shadow, his tooth marks, his trail of slime. But as soon as you show his face, the fright bubble pops.

The universe seems to understand this rule. Its biggest, baddest monsters—supermassive black holes that haunt the center of nearly every galaxy, containing as much mass as millions or billions of stars—are totally invisible. Sure, by looking at the way stars whip around the center of the Milky Way and observing the electromagnetic fireworks going off in faraway galaxies, astrophysicists infer that supermassive black holes are lurking there. But they can never see the black holes themselves. And that’s not just storytelling—it’s physics.

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UWM Astronomers to Use New Tool to Hunt Gravitational-wave Events

By Greg Walz-Chojnacki
It’s fair to say good luck played a role in the prompt discovery of an optical (and radio, X-ray, ultraviolet and infrared) counterpart to the gravitational waves from colliding neutron stars found last August.

But it’s also true that scientists don’t like to lean too hard on good luck, so astronomers have been developing a more systematic way to search for objects detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

The of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is a partner in the Zwicky Transient Facility, the latest tool for capturing astronomical observations of short-lived, or transient, phenomena. ZTF recently saw “first light,” taking its first detailed image of the night sky. In February, it will begin a regular program of swiftly scanning the entire sky to search for cosmic explosions, such as novae and supernova. The facility is also well-suited to discovering members of the solar system, principally asteroids and comets.

Continue reading the rest of the article in the UWM Report here