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About me

I am currently a postdoc scholar at MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and MIT Department of Physics, working with Dr. Frederick K. Baganoff and Prof. Kerstin Perez. I am broadly interested in high-energy astrophysics, Galactic center science, low luminosity supermassive black hole, and Galactic cosmic-ray origin. My research has been focusing on studying current flaring activities of the Galactic center supermassive black hole Sgr A*, and also reconstructing its past activities, in order to understand supermassive black holes's activity cycle, particle acceleration mechanism, and physics under strong gravitational field. Recently I have been designing observational experiments to probe cosmic-ray particles in the inner 1~kpc of the Galaxy to reveal their origin. I am also leading a project on understanding the nature of a newly discovered hard X-ray diffuse emission feature within a few parsecs of the Galactic center. Check out my new MIT webpage.

I obtained my Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia Univeristy in 2016. I did my thesis research on high-energy X-ray obserevations of the Galactic center using NuSTAR space telescope, under supervision of Prof. Charles J. Hailey. My research project "Investigating the Physics of Hard X-ray Outbursts from the Galactic Center Supermassive black hole Sgr A* with NuSTAR" was selected to be funded by NASA headquarters via the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship program. As a key member of the NuSTAR Galactic plane survey team, I conducted observation plannning for ~1 Ms Galactic plane survey campaign during the NuSTAR baseline mission in 2012-2014, and continue to be responsible for target selection and observation planning for the Galactic plane legacy program during 2014-2018. I led the analysis of the Galactic center supermassive black hole, and diffuse emission features like molecular clouds and non-thermal filaments. Besides interpreting the X-ray signals from the deep space, I am also passionate in X-ray optics, a key part of focusing X-ray telescopes enabling X-ray imaging. I conducted ground calibration experiments for the hard X-ray optics onboard the NuSTAR space telescope at Columbia Univeristy Nevis Lab in 2011.

Before joining the Columbia NuSTAR group, I obtained my bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University in Beijing. I conducted my bachelor thesis research at Tsinghua Center for Astrophysics (THCA) under supervision of Prof. Shuang-Nan Zhang and Prof. Hua Feng. I designed and performed optical experiments to prove the solidity of a novel approach to obtain super high angular resolution imaging for coded-mask X-ray telescopes.

Major Research Interests

Galactic Center

  • Sgr A* Flaring Activities
  • Giant Molecular Clouds
  • Non-thermal Filaments
  • Hard X-ray Diffuse Emission

Large Survey Campaign

  • Survey simulation and observation strategy
  • Point source population and proper motion
  • Origin of diffuse background emission

Galactic Cosmic Ray Origin

  • TeV electron Origin and Indirect detection methods
  • Constraining MeV-GeV proton/electron population in the inner 1 kpc of the Galaxy
  • Supernova Remnant and molecular cloud interaction sites

Webmaster: Shuo Zhang, last updates: Feb. 2018