Tuesday, January 15: Hidden Monsters in the Distant Universe

Hidden Monsters in the Distant Universe with Dr. Allison Kirkpatrick

Tuesday January 15 at 6:30pm; Watermark Books (4701 E Douglas)


All galaxies host a supermassive black hole at their centers, more than a million times the mass of our Sun! These monsters are often lurking unseen behind thick blankets of dust. She uses space telescopes to uncover the secrets at the centers of galaxies in the distant universe, 7-10 billion years in the past. This is an epoch in which galaxies have ample fuel for forming new stars and feeding their black holes. She will discuss how these monsters grow and what impact they have on their host galaxies. She will also discuss what new information will be revealed with the launch of NASA’s next flagship mission, the James Webb Space Telescope, in 2021.


Dr. Allison Kirkpatrick is a new assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas. She is a former Florida Gator and received her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Florida in 2007. While a sophomore at UF, she took an introductory astronomy course to fulfil a physics general education requirement and wound up changing her career path. She picked up a minor in Astronomy and completed three years of research on star clusters in the Milky Way. After graduation, Allison worked for a year at Astrocamp in Idyllwild, CA, where she taught physics and astronomy concepts in a hands-on setting to visiting elementary and middle school students. From there, she moved coasts again and received her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Massachusetts. Her Ph.D. work consisted of characterizing the emission of dust in galaxies 10-12 billion years ago. Her research is widely used to find hidden supermassive black holes in the very distant universe. She completed her Ph.D. in 2016 and won a prize postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics where she worked until moving to Lawrence this fall. So far, she and her family are enjoying Kansas immensely.

Leave a Comment