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Priyamvada Natarajan: Astrophysicist on TIME's 100 List



  Apr 26, 2024

Priyamvada Natarajan: Astrophysicist on TIME's 100 List



1. What is gravitational lensing?

Gravitational lensing is a phenomenon where the gravity of a massive object, like a galaxy or a black hole, bends the path of light passing near it. This effect can magnify and distort the light from objects behind it, helping astronomers study very distant and faint celestial bodies.

2. How do black holes form?

Black holes traditionally were thought to form from the remnants of massive stars that collapse under their own gravity at the end of their life cycles. However, Natarajan’s work suggests that some may also originate from large clouds of primordial gas collapsing directly in the early universe.

3. What is dark matter, and how is it mapped?

Dark matter is a form of matter that does not emit, absorb, or reflect light, making it invisible and detectable only through its gravitational effects. Mapping dark matter involves observing the gravitational effects it has on visible matter and light in the universe.

4. What role do quasars play in understanding the universe?

Quasars are extremely bright and distant objects powered by black holes at the center of galaxies. They are crucial for studying the early universe as they help illuminate the surrounding space, allowing astronomers to gather information about the structure and distribution of matter in the early cosmos.

5. What significance does the discovery of UHZ-1 hold?

The discovery of UHZ-1, a quasar powered by a gigantic black hole thought to be 13.2 billion years old, challenges previous notions about how quickly black holes can form after the Big Bang. This observation supports the idea that black holes could form directly from collapsing gas clouds in the universe’s infancy, a theory proposed by Natarajan.



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