Michael Nowak

Research Professor of Physics
PhD, Stanford University
MS, Stanford University
SB, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
research interests:
  • High Energy Astrophysics
  • Compact Objects (Black Holes, Neutron Stars)
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
  • CB 1058
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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Michael Nowak researches high energy phenomena related to the physics of black holes -- stellar mass black holes in our own galaxy, as well as supermassive black holes in the centers of our own and other galaxies -- and neutron stars.

Nowak's work encompasses both observation and theory of astrophysical compact object (black hole and neutron star) systems. His early theoretical work focused on the hydrodynamics of accretion flows in these systems, and later evolved into theories describing the implications of X-ray spectra and variability for models of astrophysical jets relativistically speeding away from and hot (billions of degrees) coronae surrounding compact object systems.

He performs observational studies with a variety of High Energy Astrophysics observatories, including the Chandra, Swift, and NuSTAR (NASA), and XMM-Newton (ESA) satellites.  He is a co-leader on a multi-wavelength campaign to study Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole in the center of our own Galaxy, which performed over one month of total observational time using the High Energy Transmission Gratings on the Chandra X-ray satellite.  He currently is a science collaborator, assisting with coordinated X-ray observations, with the Event Horizon Telescope team who are attempting to image Sgr A* and other nearby supermassive black holes using radio interferometry.

Nowak is also a Co-Investigator on Arcus, a proposed NASA satellite currently in Phase A study, that will use high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy to help answer three fundamental astronomical questions: How does ordinary baryonic matter cycle in and out of galaxies? What powers supermassive black hole winds that can affect entire galaxies and clusters? How do stars and protoplanetary disks form and evolve?