This is the unofficial website of the NSF AAPF program, run by the fellows themselves. For official information about the fellowship, please go to the NSF program announcement.
A black hole is often surrounded by an accretion disk --- a swirling reservoir of gas that inspirals onto the black hole at the center. Magnetization is fundamental to the physics of accretion disks, but little is currently known about the physical processes that govern black hole accretion in the strongly magnetized regime. Interpreting even the most basic observable --- the spectrum of light emitted from the disk --- becomes ambiguous when a strong magnetic field is present to change the properties of the disk. These disks sometimes produce strong outflows, called winds, with speeds 10,000 times faster than the strongest hurricane winds on Earth. Disk winds this powerful can only be produced by magnetic processes. I am working toward understanding more about how strong magnetic fields influence black hole accretion disks and their associated phenomena.
One does not typically associate sound with astronomy. After all, astronomy is an inherently visual natural science. Professional astronomers and the sighted public alike can identify with the intrinsic beauty of a spiral galaxy or streaming comet. However, astronomy can be appreciated in a new light by exploiting the medium of sound. I am working on launching Astronomy Sound of the Month (ASOM), a website that will feature monthly sound samples derived from real astronomy data, along with brief explanations of the relevant science. I am also developing workshops geared toward blind/sight impaired and English language learning K-12 students that convey the astronomy concepts they are learning in science class through sound.