New Professor Dr. Benjamin Boizelle
New professor Dr. Benjamin Boizelle brings a new emphasis to the BYU astronomy group. Since his senior year of high school, he has been interested in the “extreme laboratory that is the universe”. His passion propelled him to gain an advanced education and eventually return to his alma mater. He completed his undergraduate studies at BYU, researching extragalactic astronomy with Dr. J. Ward Moody. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California-Irvine, then performed a postdoc at Texas A&M before returning to BYU as a professor during Fall semester 2020.
Dr. Boizelle’s research focuses on radio astronomy of extragalactic objects. He has done work with the measurement of black hole masses in nearby early type galaxies (ETGs) as well as supermassive black holes in the most luminous galaxies. “We’re in a golden age for black hole mass measurement where it is now possible to do precision mass measurement in some cases.” This “golden age” allows us to test fundamental science to explore accretion phenomena and understand processes that come from accretion disk and broad spectral line regions. We can test these assumptions using precision black hole mass measurements about how stars and gas clouds orbit the centers of galaxies.
Going forward, Dr. Boizelle wants to continue studying these systems in “a more holistic light”. He is excited to use the “cornucopia of data at hand” to continue measuring the masses of black holes. He also wants to use kinematics to explore the energy budget of these systems, focusing not only on black hole masses but also on their energy and how that energy propagates out into dust and accretion disks surrounding them. This approach can help us understand the origins of the disks as well as the lifetimes of active galactic nuclei.
Dr. Boizelle’s radio astronomy research brings a new emphasis to BYU’s astronomy group. He expresses his “hope to be able to bring in some innovative ideas on how to approach problems we can tackle as an astronomy group.”
(Student contributors: Abigail Graham, Isa Kohls, and Maya Laker)