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Amgen Scholars: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty for the Amgen Scholars program.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor. For additional tips on identifying a mentor click here.

Please remember:

  • Students pursuing Amgen must be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, or students with DACA status.
  • Students pursuing Amgen must complete the 10-week program from June 21 - August 25, 2023. Students must commit to these dates. No exceptions will be made.
  • Accepted students must live in provided Caltech housing.

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Project:  Measuring the central black hole spin and inner disk density of dwarf AGN
Disciplines:  Astronomy, Astrophysics
Mentor:  Labani Mallick, Dr, (PMA), lmallick@caltech.edu, Phone: 6264913934
Mentor URL:  https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8624-9162  (opens in new window)
AO Contact:  Labani Mallick, lmallick@caltech.edu
Background:  The X-ray energy band provides a unique window to probe the extreme gravity just outside the event horizon of accreting massive black holes or active galactic nuclei (AGN). We can characterize black holes fundamentally by two parameters: mass and spin, which play a crucial role in understanding the physical nature of the AGN central engine and the cosmological evolution of galaxies which is directly associated with the energy output from the black holes. However, most of our knowledge on the physical processes occurring in the AGN central engine is confined to active galaxies hosting central black holes of mass greater than 1E5 Msun. The dwarf AGN (M_BH~1E2-1E5 Msun) is a lesser-explored, yet intriguing domain that serves as the missing link to probe whether the accretion process is the same at all mass scales. They can help us understand the origin of `seed' supermassive black holes, which are crucial to constrain the cosmological black hole growth models.
Description:  According to the unification theory, the accretion process is independent of the black hole mass, and we expect to observe similar properties in sources spanning a wide range of black hole mass. However, the accretion properties of dwarf AGN have never been explored in detail. The goal of the project is to determine the black hole spin parameter and electron density of the inner accretion disk by modeling the broadband X-ray spectra of dwarf AGN. We plan to examine the validity of the standard alpha-disk model by exploring the correlation between disk density and black hole mass. The computation of the black hole spin parameter will extend the black hole mass-spin plane down to 1E3 Msun and probe the possible formation channel of dwarf nucleus.
References:  [1] https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2022MNRAS.513.4361M/abstract
[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-019-0790-3
Student Requirements:  1. Python, Shell Scripting
2. Basic Knowledge of Astronomy
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       Amgen Scholars    Non-Caltech students only  
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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