Paul Sykes Memorial Lecture: Sophia Gad-Nasr : Creating Black Holes with Dark Matter at Cosmic Dawn

We are thrilled to announce that the speaker for our annual Paul Sykes Memorial Lecture is: Sophia Gad-Nasr
Science Advisor and Dark Matter Hunter
PhD student in Cosmology at University of California, Irvine

Join us on Saturday, March 12 at 7:30 pm for our annual Paul Sykes Memorial Lecture (held virtually).  Our YouTube channel will live stream the lecture.

Abstract in her own words: At the heart of every large galaxy lies a black hole millions to billions of times the mass of the sun. These supermassive black holes are found too early in the Universe’s history to be explained by conventional mechanisms: their formation remains a mystery.

The answer may lie in yet another of the Universe’s mysteries: dark matter. A substance six times as abundant as normal matter, dark matter is everywhere and holds galaxies together. If dark matter particles scatter off of one another, then the interplay between gravity and these scatterings may lead to a catastrophic collapse, leaving behind a black hole in its wake.

Join me on a tour of the dark Universe during the earliest stages of its evolution. I will discuss the puzzle of the existence of supermassive black holes at cosmic dawn, and how dark matter may resolve this mystery. With space telescopes like the James Webb, we can peer back far enough to see if dark matter in galaxies does collapse and form black holes at cosmic dawn, and potentially unravel this longstanding mystery in cosmology.

Paul sky memorial lecture background : These annual memorial lectures honor Paul Sykes. Paul actively pursued his interest in astronomy, attending conferences and joining RASC, where he became a Life Member. Paul Sykes passed away in October 2005 at the age of 87 and left the Vancouver Centre a generous gift.

Paul Sykes was born in Hummelston, Pennsylvania USA in 1918. He acquired his interest in astronomy at an early age. During his teens he published his own monthly astronomical column and gave at least one lecture.

He was an officer in the United States Air Force, served in the Pacific during WWII attaining the rank of Captain. He was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, the U.S. Air Medal, the Oak Leaf and Cluster and the Bronze Star. Following the war he attended UBC earning a degree in Physics in 1948. He rejoined the United States Air Force and attended the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology, studying nuclear physics. He worked on the NERVA Project, a nuclear rocket development effort and rose to the rank of Major.

Paul was appointed a lecturer and administrator in Physics at UBC and remained there until retirement in 1983.