MSU researcher pioneers way to discover black holes

black holes molina.jpg
Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 19:32:13-05

Montana State University Ford Fellow Researcher, Mallory Molina, has pioneered a way to discover black holes in dwarf galaxies.

“What this really does is open up a new population of black holes for us to study in the dwarf galaxies, which helps us answer how black holes were formed in the early universe,” Molina said.

From the time Molina was young, they have been fascinated with space and exploration which led them to discover a passion for astronomy.

“The excitement and wonder, it just seemed so…very large to a small child,” Molina said.

Today, Molina focuses their research on black holes and dwarf galaxies, specifically utilizing radio emissions to discover new objects in space. Traditionally, optical light and emission are used to outshine surrounding elements of the black hole, Molina said.

Black holes are massive objects where light cannot escape and are unable to be detected by themselves—instead, detection methods utilize emission and light around them. Molina happened upon this new method, discovering two objects that were not identified as black holes using optical emissions—but they were using radio emissions.

“I lead a search to see if I could find anymore, and I did! It was really exciting to find that the technique actually did work,” Molina said.

With this newfound way to discover black holes, Molina went to work in dwarf galaxies to discover black holes with the hope of using the data to find out how early black holes were formed.