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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

8th Meeting and Annual General Meeting of the 185th Session (2005-2006)

Supermassive Black Holes:
the engines of Active Galaxies

Professor Ian Robson
UK Astronomical Technology Centre,
Royal Observatory Edinburgh

In the Wolfson Suite, Ground Floor
Edinburgh University Library
George Square, Edinburgh
On Monday 19 June 2006, at 7:30 pm
(Following the Society's AGM)

Active Galaxies are the most powerful objects in the Universe. They shine with the light of hundreds or thousands of normal galaxies, and this light is concentrated from an extremely small volume of space, about the size of our Solar System. This tremendous energy output is due to the presence of a supermassive black hole, between a million and a thousand million more massive than our Sun, lurking at the centre of the galaxy. The gravitational attraction of the black hole sucks surrounding material into it and in the process creates the light energy that we now recognise as an active galaxy.

The highly illustrated and non-technical talk will outline our place in the Universe, describe the key points about active galaxies, give a nicely simplified overview of black holes, how they form and how they power active galaxies, and will show how activity in galaxies may be a natural part of evolution. The talk will also include a look at our own Milky Way Galaxy and the evidence for a supermassive black hole at its centre.

Professor Robson is Director of the United Kingdom Astronomical Technology Centre, Royal Observatory Edinburgh at the Blackford Hill. Previously he was Director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the Joint Astronomy Centre in Hawaii.

In addition to authoring over 200 papers in astronomy and a textbook on Active Galactic Nuclei he has edited three international conference proceedings. He has been course organiser and originator of many astronomy and science and society courses at Queen Mary College, London and the University of Central Lancashire.

He is Co-Chair of International Astronomy Union Working Group on Communicating Astronomy with the Public and a Council Member of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Location of meeting

Society Business

The President, Professor Anthony Busuttil, will be in the Chair

The Society's Annual General Meeting will be held at 7pm. Only Fellows of the Society may attend and take part in this.

On the conclusion of the AGM, by 7:30pm, visitors and guests will be invited to join us for Professor Robson's talk. Members of the public are welcome this part of the proceedings.

Jane Ridder-Patrick, Secretary
Telephone: 0131 556 2161

The Royal Scottish Society of Arts is Registered Scottish Charity SC015549

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