Muller-Sanchez Leads Two Projects Funded by NASA

Will be used to observe and analyze supermassive blackhole activity using the James Webb Space Telescope

Dr. Francisco Muller-Sanchez, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Materials Science, recently received two awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The awards will fund 1) General Observer (GO) time on the James Webb Space Telescope and 2) Archival Research (AR) on Early Release Science observations made by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Muller-Sanchez’s award for $118,459 for General Observer time on the James Webb Telescope is for the project “Unveiling the Nature of CID-42. The Best Candidate for a Gravitational Wave Recoiling Supermassive Black Hole.” This research will allow analysis of observations made on the most compelling recoiling supermassive black hole (SMBH) candidate in the Universe: CID-42 (also known as CXOC J100043.1+020637). CID-42 is a galaxy quasar, an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus (AGN) powered by a supermassive black hole with mass ranging from millions to tens of billions of solar masses surrounded by a gaseous accretion disc. The observations will be used to obtain Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) Integral Field Unit (IFU) data. The data will then be utilized to characterize the main properties of this gravitational wave recoiling supermassive black hole that has been inadequately studied by previous observations with the most powerful current-generation telescopes.

Muller-Sanchez’s second award for $119,128 research using archival James Webb Space Telescope NIRSpec data is “AGN Feeding and Feedback in NGC 4151.” NGC 4151 is an intermediate spiral Seyfert galaxy with weak inner ring structure and is one of the nearest galaxies to Earth to contain an actively growing supermassive black hole. This research will study active galactic nucleus feeding (i.e., mass accretion by the black hole) and feedback (i.e., the re-deposition of energy and momentum into the interstellar medium of a galaxy through the outflows and radiation from the AGN) in NGC 4151. As the prototypical Seyfert 1 galaxy and one of the nearest AGN, NGC 4151 provides an outstanding opportunity to obtain meaningful constraints for models incorporating these processes to regulate black hole-galaxy co-evolution.


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