Lindsey Byrne, a Northwestern graduate student studying galaxy formation and evolution, has been featured in and on the front cover of DEIXIS, the annually published magazine produced by the Department of Energy for their Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (CSGF). The piece, “Feeding Supermassive Black Holes”, highlights her work modeling the role of SMBHs in galaxy evolution as a CSGF recipient.
“Typically, when we think of black holes, we think of ones that form at the end of the lifetime of a massive star,” Byrne says in the full magazine piece. “The supermassive black holes I’m studying are much bigger than that; they’re millions or billions of times the mass of the sun and they exist at the centers of most, if not all, galaxies.”
Byrne’s research focuses on computational methods of exploring the cosmos. Through the theoretical simulations she has created as a member of CIERA Professor Claude-André Faucher-Giguère’s group, it was revealed that a galaxy’s overall structure changes in major ways during its transition point – in total stellar mass, the black hole’s mass, and the inward pressure from gas in the medium surrounding the galaxy. The DEIXIS article explains that Bryne’s computational model will likely help researchers observe black holes in previously undetectable galaxies. The FIRE (Feedback In Realistic Environments) simulations predict that these starved black holes will be smaller than the currently observed super massive black hole-to-galaxy scaling ratio predicts. This form of observational astronomy and cosmology is vital to understanding the formation of celestial bodies within different galaxies, and Byrne and Faucher-Giguère’s research play a role in understanding those systems.
The front cover of the magazine, which summarizes Byrne’s work as “Black Holes on Fire”, claims that her ‘astrophysics predictions could sharpen our views of the cosmos’. Not only is this achievement telling of Byrne’s already transformative research, but it also highlights her as an emerging leader within the field.
Article by Gabriela Hamburger Medailleu