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starburst Research

Black holes

Black holes have a profound impact on their environment. Gas falling towards a super-massive black hole can produce tremendous quantities of radiation (often outshining an entire galaxy), and can also produce very high velocity outflows such as relativistic jets. The feedback between inflowing gas and outflowing jets and radiation plays an important role in regulating structure (eg galaxy and galaxy cluster) formation and evolution. We study the environment immediately surrounding black holes using space-based X-ray observatories (including Chandra and Suzaku), in addition to observations at other wavelengths. X-ray spectroscopy of gas deep in the potential well of the black hole, where the effects of strong gravity are important, allows us to probe the properties of the black hole itself.