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Astronomer to Discuss Black Holes, Quasars

March 28, 2016
man standing between screens showing star and space pictures
UW astronomer Adam Myers will give the Spring Faculty Senate Speaker Series talk Tuesday, April 5, at 4:10 p.m. in Room 302 of the UW Classroom Building. (UW Photo)

“The Billion Light-Year Yardstick: Mapping the Universe with Luminous Black Holes” is the subject of the University of Wyoming Spring Faculty Senate Speaker Series talk Tuesday, April 5, at 4:10 p.m. in Room 302 of the UW Classroom Building.

Adam Myers, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will be the speaker. He says the talk will explain distance measures in the universe and will outline how next-generation surveys will use gigantic maps of quasars -- by far the largest maps ever made -- to study dark energy.

He describes quasars as thirsty black holes, weighing more than a billion suns, that swallow huge amounts of gas.

“Because quasars are extremely luminous, they can map our universe out to vast distances and back to almost the dawn of time itself,” Myers says. “Measurements of exploding stars, which won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, show that our expanding universe has begun to accelerate -- an observation commonly called ‘dark energy.’"

Myers, who has conducted astronomy research for 15 years, is co-author of more than 100 publications based on research using telescopes on five continents and in space. His research, which has been funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Humboldt Foundation, focuses on quasars -- extremely massive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies that actively consume gas, and that can be used as beacons to characterize the size and shape of the cosmos.

He has been involved in many major astronomical surveys the last decade, and is an award-winning teacher of introductory astronomy.

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