UMD Astronomer Suvi Gezari Named Kavli Foundation Plenary Lecturer at 235th American Astronomical Society Meeting
Lecture will focus on Gezari’s research into stars ripped apart by supermassive black holes
Suvi Gezari, an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland, will deliver the Kavli Foundation Plenary Lecture at the 235thAmerican Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, on January 5, 2020. With support from the Kavli Foundation, the vice presidents of AAS name a special invited lecturer to kick off each semiannual AAS meeting with a presentation on recent research of great importance.
Gezari is a world leader in the study of transient phenomena in astronomy and is known for her discovery and analysis of tidal disruption events (TDEs)—flares of light emitted when stars are torn apart by the gravitational pull of supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. She has transformed TDEs from a theoretical concept to an observational reality, discovering large numbers of these events and using them to explore the nature and growth of supermassive black holes and their environments.
The title of Gezari’s Kavli lecture will be “Black Holes Snacking on Stars: A Systematic Exploration of Transients in Galaxy Nuclei.”
Gezari earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Brown University, her master’s in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her Ph.D. in astronomy from Columbia University. She joined UMD in 2012 after completing a Voluntariat International fellowship at Caltech and a Hubble fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, where she also spent two years as a staff scientist.
“I have been attending winter AAS meetings since January 1999, when I was an undergraduate presenting results from my summer research program at the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts,” Gezari said. “If you’d told me then that I would be giving a plenary lecture 21 years later, I don’t think I’d have believed it. Thank you to the AAS vice presidents and the Kavli Foundation for recognizing my work—this is truly an honor!”
Gezari’s research focus is on time-domain astrophysics, which is the study of celestial objects and phenomena that vary in brightness over time. These range from single events called transients, such as supernova explosions and TDEs, to active galactic nuclei that “flicker” over many years as the supply of gas feeding their central black holes waxes and wanes. Gezari has used ground- and space-based observations across the electromagnetic spectrum to discover and characterize transients and study their physical properties.
Gezari is co-director of the Joint Space-Science Institute, a research partnership between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She is also a member of the Zwicky Transient Facility team, using the Palomar 48-inch telescope to repeatedly search the sky for variable objects. In 2015, she received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation, and in 2016, she was honored with the Junior Faculty Award from the Board of Visitors of UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. She has published more than 60 peer-reviewed research articles.
This release is adapted from text provided by the American Astronomical Society.
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