Department of Astronomy & Physics

New Blackhole Flare Observations Support Lamppost Model

Blackhole flare

In this artist impression, the blackhole, the accretion disk, and the purple corona are shown. In sequence, the corona creates, along a jet, a flare of X-rays. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Post-doctoral Fellow Dan Wilkins, working with Professor Luigi Gallo, from the Department of Astronomy and Physics at Saint Mary's University, interpreted X-ray observations obtained from NASA's Swift and Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescopic Array as evidence for the Lamppost Model that describes the topology of material around a blackhole that illuminates the black hole's accreation disk. The data suggest that the corona "surrounding" the blackhole first shrunk around the blackhole and then, through some mechanism that is not understood at this time, shot away material from the blackhole in a  pulse-like beam. The base of the beam/jet then appeared to collapse again around the blackhole. Their analysis of the observed flare links, for the first time, the behaviour and configuration of the corona and the jet.

Their results, [authored by, D.R. Wilkins, L. C. Gallo, D. Grupe (Space Science Center, Kentucky) , K. Bonson (Astronomy Ph.D. student, SMU), S. Komossa (Max-Planck-Institut fur Radioastronomie, Bonn), and A.C. Fabian (Cambridge)] will appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (arXiv e-print). Click here to link to NASA's website where this important discovery is described in detail.

 Click Here for Colloquia


December 14, 2016
Faculty Search 2017
Astronomy & Physics Tenure-track Assistant Professor search
kanungo2016 thumbnail
September 23, 2016
Size of proton distribution in exotic carbon isotopes revealed
Prof. Rituparna Kanungo: Size of proton distribution in exotic carbon isotopes revealed
2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium
September 19, 2016
2016 Undergraduate Symposium
2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium

ASTRO-H X-ray telescope
February 5, 2016
Luigi Gallo and ASTRO-H
UPDATED: Science reporter Ivan Semeniuk interviews Professor Gallo about the X-ray telescope for The Globe and Mail

Robert Thacker
November 21, 2015
Thacker is Science Champion 2016
Dr. Robert Thacker wins the 2016 Science Champion Discovery Award.
March 30, 2017, Sir James Dunn Building, Room 101, Dalhousie University
2017 CAP lecture - Colliding Black Holes and Gravitional Waves: Seeing the Universe through Bizarre Messengers
Harald Pfeiffer (CITA, University of Toronto)

March 24, 2017, Atrium 101
Constraining the accretion regions of meteorites via astrochemical modelling of protoplanetary disks
Dr. Jon Ramsey (Natural History Museum of Denmark and Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen)

February 3, 2017, Sobey 260
Blue Stragglers Stars in Open Clusters
Giovanni Carraro (Universita’ di Padova)


January 13, 2017, Atrium 101
Probing relativistic effects in the central engine of AGN
Dr. Mario Sanfrutos (Centro de Astrobiologia, ESAC (ESA))