Biermann Lectures 2016: Magnetism and Radiation in Motion, in Disks and Jets

May 09, 2016

Black holes are fascinating – even though or especially because they cannot be seen; nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull. Nevertheless their immediate surroundings are very interesting laboratories to study high-energy and relativistic processes in space. Astrophysical phenomena such as gas dynamics, magneto-hydrodynamics, and radiative transfer in a broad range of astrophysical phenomena will be the topic of this year’s Biermann Lectures by Mitchell Begelman from the University of Colorado.

After his major in physics at Harvard in 1974, Mitchell Begelman decided to concentrate on theoretical astrophysics for his graduate studies, working with the young professor Martin Rees at Cambridge. Back then, black holes were a purely theoretical thought experiment – many people didn’t believe that such extreme objects actually existed, let alone that sometime astronomers might be able to observe them (or at least their surroundings). Then came the first discovery of cosmic jets: black holes ejecting gas from their surroundings along their rotational axis. In 1984, Begelman co-authored a paper with Roger Blandford and Martin Rees on the physics of jets, which has become one of the standard references of the field.

In addition to this topic, Begelman’s research includes studies of astrophysical gas dynamics, magneto-hydrodynamics, and radiative transfer theory as applied to a broad range of astrophysical phenomena. These include active galaxies and quasars, compact objects, star formation, galaxy formation, and dynamics and evolution of dense stellar systems.

Begelman is formerly Chair of the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado. He has won numerous honours and awards, including a Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1984, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship in 1987, the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society in 1988, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998. He was the first Boldt Lecturer at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center in 2004 and a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge in 2005–2006. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Cambridge Philosophical Society. Together with Martin Rees, he authored the popular book “Gravity’s Fatal Attraction: Black Holes in the Universe” in 1996 (with a second edition in 2009). He has also published a fictional memoir of what it would be like to travel around galaxies, “Turn Right at Orion” (2001).

Biermann lectures 2016

by Professor Mitchell Begelman (University of Colorado)

Overall title: "Magnetism and Radiation in Motion, in Disks and Jets"


Tuesday, May 31 (first lecture): 

"Accretion Disks, Elevated"


Tuesday, June 14 (second lecture):

"Relativistic Jets, Illuminated"


Tuesday, July 5: (last lecture):

"Magnetic Power, Annihilated"


All lectures will be given at 15:30 at MPA (Large seminar room E.0.11) and will be preceded by tea, coffee and cookies at 15:15.

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