Astrophysicist Discusses Black Holes at Evening of Science

Astrophysicist Maxim Lyutikov, professor of physics and astronomy at Purdue University, discussed black holes and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity with students and faculty during an Evening of Science organized by Loomis Chaffee’s Physics Club on Tuesday, January 12.

More than 50 school community members joined the Zoom videoconference to hear Mr. Lyutikov’s presentation.

During his talk, Mr. Lyutikov remarked that it has been a “good decade for astrophysicists,” explaining that two groups of recent Nobel Prize-winning physicists earned the awards for work related to the detection, measurement, and mathematical explanation of black holes in the universe. Mr. Lyutikov said he had been fortunate to collaborate with one recent Nobel laureate, Kip S. Thorne, earlier in his career when Lyutikov was a graduate student at California Institute of Technology. Mr. Thorne, Rainer Weiss, and Barry C. Barish received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for their success in observing gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Ghez for their work advancing the scientific understanding of black holes.

Mr. Lyutikov’s virtual visit to Loomis was spearheaded by junior Lillie Szemraj, Physics Club president, and facilitated by Science Department Head Neil Chaudhary ’05.     

In addition to teaching, Mr. Lyutikov conducts research in high-energy and extragalactic astrophysics, phenomena involving large-scale compact objects, and cosmic rays. His research has appeared in more than 300 publications. He earned a master’s degree at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute and a doctorate at California Institute of Technology. Mr. Lyutikov is a regular contributor to Purdue’s Saturday Morning Astrophysics Program for high school students.