Feryal Özel 

Feryal Özel, Ph.D.

Thursday, May 16, 2:30-3:30, Arizona Senior Academy Building

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the world learned that a team of over 200 scientists using a network of 8 radio telescopes around the globe produced the first-ever photograph of a black hole. Feryal Özel, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Arizona, is a leader of the worldwide Event Horizon Telescope experiment that produced the image of the supermassive black hole 53 million light years away in the center of the M87 galaxy.  

Black Hole. COURTESY OF BGR.COM

Her talk will explore the proposition that while astronomy is described as an observational science, throughout history it has constantly grappled with the unseen. Until now, part of astronomy’s “unseen” has been black holes, those regions of space having a gravitational field so intense that no matter or light can escape.  Albert Einstein predicted the existence of black holes over a century ago when he developed the theory of general relativity. One goal of the Event Horizon Telescope is to test his theory. 

A native of Istanbul, Özel earned her Ph.D. at Harvard University and was a Hubble Fellow and member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She has been a Fellow at the Harvard-Radcliffe Institute and a Visiting Professor at the Miller Institute at U.C. Berkeley. She says she “started using black holes and neutron stars as a way to answer physics questions that we otherwise can’t possibly answer.” Özel first published a paper on black hole imaging in 2000, and refers to the creation of the black hole photograph as “a sweet moment that’s been a long time in the making.” 

Written by Carol and Donald Gilzinger, Academy Village Volunteers