The goal of my research program is to elucidate the fundamental nature and astronomical consequences of astrophysical black holes. I do this via a number of independent projects, spanning scales from the horizon to the universe, each of which are connected by the critical role played by the extreme physical conditions near black hole horizons.
My current focus is the interpretation and analysis of horizon-resolving millimeter wave observations of the supermassive black holes at the centers of the Milky Way and M87. These observations provide unprecedented access to the immediate vicinity of the horizon, and therefore to the effects of strong gravity near black holes. Hence they provide an ideal opportunity to probe both the high-energy astrophysics powering some of the most energetic phenomena in the universe and test the validity of general relativity in the strongly non-linear limit. This work involves developing both the models and the analysis techniques, often combining the high-resolution radio data with additional observations in multiple wavebands, to extract answers to the physically relevant questions.
In addition, I am also involved with efforts to: Assess the cosmological impact of the very-high energy gamma ray emission from a subset of active galactic nuclei (AGNs, accreting supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies), capable of heating the universe by orders of magnitude; Study the magnetic structure of the ultra-relativistic jets powered by AGN via coupling multi-wavelength polarization observations with state-of-the-art simulations; Probe the dynamics and potential signatures of white dwarf encounters with intermediate mass black holes, which show promise as a potential astronomical signature of the presence of this latter, heretofore undetected, class of black hole; and Measure the statistical properties of Galactic stellar-mass black holes, the end points of massive star evolution, via potentially directly imaging microlensing events.