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Supermassive Black Holes

What are black holes? Are they really monsters that devour everything? Why are astronomers at the University of Southampton so interested in these beasts?


Black holes; galaxies; radio astronomy; X-ray astronomy; Electromagnetic spectrum


In this talk we will discuss the two different types of black holes, the small, sun-sized black holes which are numerous in our galaxy, and the supermassive black holes which exist at the centre at every galaxy. We will focus on a particularly ‘active’ black hole which has jets which extend from the black hole, and can be seen using radio telescopes. In this talk we will also discuss how astronomers use the electromagnetic spectrum to look at the universe as a whole, and the spin off technology that resulted from using radio astronomy to study black holes.

Why this is important

Because these supermassive black holes exist at the centre of every galaxy it is important that astronomers understand why these supermassive black holes are there in the first place. They also need to find out the part the black holes play in the formation of the galaxy itself, and if star formation in the galaxy is linked to the ‘cooling’ of the galaxy. Does this ‘cooling’ happen as a result of energy removed from the galaxy by the black hole.

Key descriptors

Black holes; binary blacks holes; super massive black holes; radio astronomy; electromagnetic spectrum.

Year groups

Years 12 and 13


Dr Sadie Jones

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