Sambruna Receives Grant for Astrophysics Research

Posted: July 10, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lynn Burke

Rita Sambruna, assistant professor in Physics and Astronomy and the School of Computational Sciences, has been awarded $550,000 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to supp ort her extragalactic astrophysics research on black holes. Funds from the five-year grant, which comes from NASA’s highly competitive Long-Term Space Astrophysics program, will be used to hire a postdoctoral fellow to join Sambruna’s research group.

The research involves the material that falls near a black hole and the high-energy radiation that comes from the inner regions of the accretion disk that surrounds the black hole. Under the grant, Sambruna plans to use the data to understand the structure of the inner accretion disk using state-of-the-art models.

“This research is timely because we have a lot of new instruments in space that allow us to capture world-class data,” says Sambruna. The data primarily are gathered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and a European spacecraft, XMM-Newton. She also will tap into archived data from past x-ray missions.

Eventually, Sambruna hopes to set up a research group at George Mason that will be at the forefront of jet and black hole research. “I’m lucky enough that I have a lot of very good colleagues within the university who are very supportive of what I do,” she says. “It’s a very good place to be, and I’m delighted to be here.”

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