J e f f r e y  M c C l i n t o c k
Senior Astrophysicist
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

I am employed by the Smithsonian Institution and work on the Harvard campus. I study the black holes that are formed when a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel and is crushed by its own gravitational force. My collaborators and I examine these black holes in any way that we think might prove fruitful using such NASA space observatories as the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and the Hubble Space Telescope. For measuring the masses of the black holes, we use large optical telescopes located in Chile and Arizona. We have identified 11 compact objects that are almost certainly black holes; now we and others are looking for those effects predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity that are unique to black holes, such as the severe bending of a light beam and the extreme slowing of time.

 

I spent my school years in Port Orchard, WA, a very small town located about an hour from Seattle by ferry. I graduated from high school in 1960. The world was so different then. Knowledge came slowly from reading the available books, and sometimes from talking with teachers and others. A benefit of this slow pace is that you had time to really experience the wonder of a brilliant meteor shower, a close alignment of several planets in the evening sky, a trout swimming in a brook... Life was slow and that gave it a delicious quality. But there were far fewer opportunities to learn.


 

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