Thank you to everyone who attended our annual Anthony B. Evnin Lecture  in-person and online. With over 300 attendees in McCosh and 100 attendees on Zoom, over 400 people were in attendance to hear Dr. Janna Levin, Claire Tow Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University and Chair of the department. Dr. Levin’s lecture on ‘Black Hole Blues’ was an exciting end to our Year of Astrophysics! She discussed the mind-bending physics of black holes, from their explosive and, in the case of supermassive black holes, unknown origins, to various theoretical fates in the distant future.

Black holes are some of the most massive objects in the universe, their gravitational field so strong that not even light can escape. And although the stellar mass black holes (these are the end states of the most massive stars) are statistically uncommon, Dr. Levin explained how there are millions, even billions of them in the universe. And every galaxy is thought to have a super massive black hole in its center, but astrophysicists are still not certain how they formed. Her lecture tied in nicely to this week’s solar eclipse too. Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity led to the prediction of the existence of black holes. Light follows along curves in space-time due to the presence of massive objects, allowing an observer to view objects behind a massive foreground object. The theory of general relativity was observationally confirmed by Arthur Eddington during the total solar eclipse of 1919 when he observed a star known to be behind the sun, propelling Albert Einstein to global fame.