Past KTU Programs - Kids' Tech University (KTU) at Ohio
Dr. Michael StamatikosApril 12, 2014
How do we know black holes exist if we can’t see them? | OSU

An interactive session led by Dr. Michael Stamatikos

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Physics
Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics, The Ohio State University at Newark


This KTU event will be held at OSU.

Black holes are one of Nature’s most puzzling creations: places in space where gravity is so great that nothing can escape  -- not even light, which travels at the ultimate cosmic speed limit of 700 million miles per hour. Because no light escapes from a black hole, we cannot directly observe them, the way we would a star with a telescope. So how do we know that black holes really exist if we cannot see them? By being very sneaky!

Join NASA astrophysicist Michael Stamatikos on an interactive cosmic journey to explore black holes. Dr. Stamatikos, a visiting assistant professor of Physics at Ohio State, will explain how scientists hunt down the elusive black holes, in part by making time machines out of orbiting robotic satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Black holes not only exist, but are in fact commonly found throughout the Universe – even within the center of our own Milky Way Galaxy!

Dr. Michael (Mike) Stamatikos is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics at The Ohio State University (OSU) at Newark and an Astrophysicist affiliated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), near Washington D.C., and the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP) at OSU in Columbus, OH. He joined OSU as a CCAPP Fellow in January 2009, after serving as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at GSFC since 2006. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A.) in 1998, with a major in Physics and a minor in Teaching, from the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). After teaching high school physics in Western New York for a couple of years, he returned to UB and earned additional degrees in Physics consisting of a Master of Science (M.S.) in 2003 and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in 2006. His Ph.D. was based upon work performed while at the University of Wisconsin (UW) Madison, using the Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA) located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, where he spent three weeks in November of 2003. His continued passion for education and public outreach has been recognized with awards from the Buffalo Research Institute on Education for Teaching (1998), the American Association of Physics Teachers (2002), the UB Graduate School (2005) and a nomination for the NASA Robert H. Goddard Honor Award for Outreach (2011). He gives frequent public lectures, contributes to the “Ask the Expert” segment of OSU’s onCampus newspaper,  and makes invited media appearances on WOSU, NPR’s “All Sides with Ann Fisher” and NASA-TV.

At OSU, he leads research in high-energy particle astrophysics featuring gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) - transient beacons of high-energy electromagnetic radiation that have challenged astrophysicists for over four decades. Since their serendipitous discovery in the 1970’s, an international ensemble of dedicated satellite missions and ground-based observatories have exposed these cosmological events as the “death cries” of either imploding massive stars or the merger of (binary) stellar companions. Both ultimately result in one of Nature’s most enigmatic creations: a black hole. His work focuses on understanding GRBs in a multi-messenger context. In that regard, he serves as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the GRB Temporal Analysis Consortium (GTAC) and International Space Station Interdisciplinary Research Team (ISS-IRT), guest PI on the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM), an affiliated scientist on the Large Area Telescope (LAT), both of which comprise the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (FGST), a Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) Instrument Scientist within the Swift Team, and a member of the IceCube Collaboration (AMANDA’s successor). As a member of Swift and Fermi-LAT, he was awarded the Bruno Rossi Prize in 2007 and 2011, respectively, from the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) for major advances in the scientific understanding of GRBs. He’s co-authored over a hundred scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Science and Nature, and serves as an invited peer reviewer for NASA (Swift, Fermi & Chandra) science proposals, as well as The Astrophysical Journal (ApJ). He lives in Columbus, OH with his wife.

Laboratory Experience- students will be divided into 5 groups by age for an interactive science lab experience based on the topic of the day. Research scientists and college student volunteers will be leading the experience.