Universe: The Greatest Astronomical Discovery of All Time

Astrophysicist Martin Gaskell discusses—at virtually the same time as its publication to the word—what has been called the “greatest astronomical discovery of all time.” The conversation ranges from science to intriguing notes on spirituality. Dr. Gaskell is a professor of astronomy at the University of California Santa Cruz.

An Infrared View of the M81 Galaxy | NASA
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Dr. Gaskell shares fascinating insights about Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, the Nobel Prize, Mars Exploration, going back to the Moon, the Origins of the Universe, and the relationship between science and spirituality.

Professor Martin Gaskell, astrophysicist

With a Ph.D., 1981, University of California, Santa Cruz and
Postdoctoral fellow (1981-1983), University of Cambridge, Dr. Gaskell is currently a researcher and lecturer in Astronomy & Astrophysics at UCSC.

His primary research interests are in theoretical and observational studies of what happens around the most bizarre objects in the universe: supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies.  As matter spirals into these black holes, it produces a tremendous release of energy as what is called an “active galactic nucleus” or AGN for short.

AGNs are the most powerful energy sources in the universe (more powerful than an entire galaxy of stars).  Because they are so luminous they can be seen far away —back to the early days of the formation of galaxies when the universe was young.

Much of Gaskell’s work involves collaboration with other researchers around the world. “I like to work at the interface of theory and observation.  My research involves observations with giant telescopes on the ground, satellites in space, computer simulations, and sometimes just good old fashioned pencil and paper.”

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