Quasars: The Most Dynamic Galaxies In The Universe, With Special Guest Dr. Matt Lister

July 30, 2013

John P. Millis, PhD for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

Black holes are often thought of for their ability to draw matter in: Get too close and not even light can escape the clutches of the Universe’s densest objects. But these exotic astronomical objects are far more interesting; in fact many of them are better known for their ability to eject matter into space.

Usually the more massive the black hole, the more likely it is to expel mass. Distant galaxies known as quasars are particularly known for this trait. With supermassive black holes that can be up to billions of times the mass of our Sun, these objects will emit more energy in one second, than our Sun releases in about 200 million years.

Researchers with the Mojave project are studying these systems in the radio band to glean insight into their powerful outflows. To learn more, we spoke with Dr. Matthew Lister, professor of physics and astronomy at Purdue University and leader of the Mojave project.

Dr. Lister shares with us the details of the Mojave project, as well as some of the most fascinating facts about quasars and other black hole systems. He even explains how particles traveling away from these objects appear to be traveling faster than the speed of light. Didn’t think that was possible? Tune in to this edition of Your Universe Today to find out more!


Prof. Matthew Lister obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in physics at the University of Toronto and University of Victoria, Canada, with a specialization in astrophysics.  After completing his Ph.D. studies in astronomy at Boston University, he joined the U.S. Space VLBI project as a Caltech postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. There he played a lead role in carrying out the first complete survey of extragalactic jets done with the U.S.-Japanese space-ground VSOP radio interferometer array. While a Karl Jansky Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, he became principal investigator of the MOJAVE project, a large program to study the structure and evolution of highly relativistic jetted outflows using several NASA satellites and the Very Long Baseline Array. Matthew joined the faculty of Purdue University in 2003 and is currently an associate professor in the Physics department.