Prosiectau Ffiseg ar gyfer myfyrwyr bl.3 a bl.4

Disgrifiad prosiect

Motion of stars near a supermassive black hole (Sagittarius A*)

(supervisor: Xing Li)

Nature of project: theory, data analysis

Available to students on full-time physics degree schemes only.

Project description and methodology

It is widely believed that supermassive black holes are sitting in centres of galaxies. Such supermassive black holes can become very active at times or at the right time/location of observations. Hence the observations of such black holes can be very difficult. Often the motion of stars near such galaxies can indicate the exact location of such black holes. The speed of such stars may reach as high as 8% speed of light according to new reports. The project will adopt general relativity to study the motion of objects/stars when they are near the surface of supermassive black holes. The prediction of the trajectories of such stars may be useful for locating such black holes.

Please note general relativity is only taught in semester 2 of year 3. So if the project is done by year 3 students, extra effort may be needed.

A successful project will develop beyond the above in one/some of the following directions:
Creating a video showing the motion of stars near a supermassive black hole.

When considering where to take your project, please bear in mind the time available. It is preferable to do fewer things well than to try many and not get conclusive results on any of them. However, sometimes it is useful to have a couple of strands of investigation in parallel to work on in case delays occur.

Additional scope or challenge if taken as a Year-4 project: The Y4 project will need to discuss in what conditions stars will start to be destroyed by the tidal forces of the central black hole. The complexities of the theory could make this a rewarding 4th year project.

Please speak to Xing Li (xxl) if you consider doing this project.

Initial literature for students:

  1. Year 3 General relativity course material.
  2. Schödel, R.; et al., Nature. 419 (6908), 2002:
  3. Ghez, A. M.; et al., Astrophysical Journal. 689 (2): 1044–1062,2008
  4. Antonucci, R., Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 31(1): 473–521, 1993

Novelty, degree of difficulty and amount of assistance required

The mathematics of general relativity is the hard part and the student will get help from the supervisor.

Project milestones and deliverables (including timescale)

milestoneto be completed by
Revision of general relativityend of October
General review of supermassive black holesend of October
Detailed work of computing the trajectory of stars end of February
visualization of such trajectoriesEaster