Frank Winkler Receives Grant for Black Hole Research

July 14, 2016

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Professor Emeritus Frank Winkler of the physics department has received funding from NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute to help advance science’s understanding of black holes.

In collaboration with researchers at Curtin University (Australia) and Johns Hopkins University (U.S.), Winkler’s project involves observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and is titled “Diagnosing the super-Eddington accretion/outflow regime using the microquasar MQ1 in M83.”      

The goal is to better understand the unusual black hole in the southern spiral galaxy M83, also known as the Southern Pinwheel. The research is a follow-up to previous studies from Hubble and from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.   

Prior studies have suggested that black holes provide the energy source for radiation in excess of what simple physics models allow – the so-called “Eddington limit” – and has done so for thousands of years. Winkler and his colleagues hope to learn how this is possible, or else why this interpretation may be incorrect.

Frank Winkler, the Gamaliel Painter Bicentennial Professor Emeritus of Physics, joined the Middlebury faculty in 1969. His research is centered on supernovae, supernova remnants, and the interstellar medium.

“Simply put,” he explains, “I am interested in how stars blow up, what is left after they do, and how they enrich the cosmos in heavy elements like oxygen, carbon, silicon, iron, and others – the elements that play a crucial role in the development of planets and life on them.”