Guest lecturer Dr. Emanuele Berti interacts with MDCC students Blake Gibson and Michael Thompson as they watch an Euler's disc demonstration of the sound created by two black holes colliding. Dr. Berti, an astrophysicist at the University of Mississippi, spoke to MDCC students this week in two lectures.


Mississippi Delta Community College students gained in depth scientific insights this week from an expert in astrophysics.

berti2Emanuele Berti, Ph.D., associate professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Mississippi, was a guest lecturer on the Moorhead campus Monday. Berti made two presentations for MDCC students on some deep subjects: black holes and gravitational waves.

He's part of a global team of scientists that has uncovered a curious case of "cannibalism" among super-massive black holes in space.

The research findings by Berti and three co-authors appeared in the July issue of Physical Review Letters, one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed academic journals in the field. The paper detailed how the scientists explored the impact of the black hole spins on the dynamics of high-energy black hole collisions.

"When black holes collide, their encounter gives birth to large amounts of gravitational waves," Berti said. "These waves are traveling ripples in the fabric of space-time-the same fabric that black holes are made of." According to the team's results, when black holes collide close to the speed of light, the outcome of their encounter is surprising: regardless of their structure, the black holes swallow the waves they generated, eating about half of their gravitational -wave progeny.

"Therefore, two small black holes colliding at large energies may result in two slow-moving, fat black holes."