Surveying the Gas Supplies around Supermassive Black Holes at the Centers of Galaxies – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Surveying the Gas Supplies around Supermassive Black Holes at the Centers of Galaxies

Priscilla Pitiak

Priscilla Pitiak

Pronouns: She/Her

Research Mentor(s): Sean Johnson, Assistant Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Department of Astronomy, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 6 (4pm-4:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 15
Presenter: 3

Event Link


Despite the many studies conducted and research findings produced which illustrate a stronger understanding of cosmic functions within the universe, there is still very little known about the processes of galaxy growth and evolution. Researching the distinct mechanisms by which galaxies grow and evolve will further elucidate the state of the universe following the Big Bang and the creation of celestial bodies. This project takes a chemical approach in studying the mystery of galaxy growth and formation by focusing on the composition of large scale gas reservoirs around galaxies with supermassive black holes known as quasars. These gas reservoirs provide fuel for supermassive black hole growth, yet also harbor information regarding the events which induce galaxy evolution. This project uses Python graphical user interfaces and data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to measure the incidence of gas observed around quasars. Through measuring the Magnesium II absorption strength within foreground and background quasar spectra, and then running a statistical analysis of the data, this project intends to determine the trends that exist between gas and quasar properties, and what drives the correlations between these and that of their chemical composition.

Authors: Priscilla Pitiak, Sean Johnson
Research Method: Computer Programming

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