Putting the PhD in MeeplePhD

I realized a couple weeks ago that today is the 10-year anniversary of my PhD graduation. That’s where the “PhD” in my handle comes from – I’m not a Game Doctor, but a Dr. who loves games!

Want to know what my thesis was on? Wait, don’t leave!! I studied black holes at the centers of galaxies – that’s pretty cool!

Specifically, I was looking at light from very near the black holes. These particular black holes were actively eating, and putting out an incredible amount of X-ray radiation. By looking for changes in that X-ray light over time, I was trying to map out the region around the black hole.

The movie below shows an animation of what that central region might look like around a black hole in one of these galaxies. The animation is based on later work by another researcher (Markowitz, Krumpe, & Nikutta (2014) MNRAS 439:1403), where they saw changes in the X-ray light that could be explained by clouds. (Those graphs in the upper right corner? I produced hundreds of those for dozens of galaxies. It’s a picture only a scientist could love. Heh.)

These days I work in science communications, but that PhD gave me a good background in science and astronomy. Soon I’m hoping to put together some posts on science in games.

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