ABOUT ME

I am currently a researcher funded through NASA satellite grants and reside in the Seattle area. Prior to this I was an Ambition fellow in Zurich, Switzerland and a postdoctoral fellow in Honolulu, Hawaii. I obtained my PhD in 2011 from University of Maryland with a NASA Goddard fellowship, Maryland State senatorial fellowship, and a Japanese science fellowship where I worked on the Swift Satellite and balloon missions.  Prior to astrophysics, I worked in robotics and aerospace at DARPA headquarters and was responsible for the DARPA Grand Challenge robot route development as a subject matter engineering expert. Before this I worked at 3M and as a high school teacher in Minnesota.

My research has been heavily involved with NASA satellites.  I am part of the Swift BAT science team and the NuSTAR AGN science team.  I am responsible for the Swift BAT AGN legacy survey with NuSTAR as well as Swift followup of the recent catalogs. I received a NASA Group Achievement award as part of my work resolving the cosmic X-ray background with NuSTAR.  I am also part of science teams for newly proposed mission such as Lynx, AXIS, and STROBE-X.  I have also had large programs with Chandra and ground based telescopes.  

RESEARCH INTERESTS

I am a leader of an international collaboration studying over a thousand AGN found by Swift in the BAT AGN Spectroscopic Survey (BASS; www.bass-survey.com).  We are measuring all of their X-ray properties, black hole masses and accretion rates, stellar masses, gas fractions, and radio properties.  The combination of the unprecedented multi-wavelength data in BASS and the expertise of our team have resulted in 14 publications in the last two years, with two in high impact publications like Nature as well as a 2018 AAS special session and 2018 ESO special conference.  Please go to the website link to read more about it.  If you have a science idea for BASS and would like to be part of the team please contact me! 

From Galaxy Mergers to Gravity Waves and Recoiling Black Holes

Simulations suggest that the turbulent process of merging galaxies powers the black hole growth. In the process of merging, as two galaxies spiral around each other, violent shocks disrupt the structure of the galaxies enabling gas to fall onto the black holes and also heavily obscuring them behind a screen of gas and dust.  If both black holes are fueled simultaneously, a close dual AGN could be observable.  In the subsequent black hole merger, gravity waves are predicted which can result in a recoiling black hole that leaves the center of the galaxy.  While the theoretical model is clear, recent observational studies have provided dramatically different scenarios and contradictory results.  My research uses high resolution imaging in the X-rays from Chandra as well as the adaptive optics to search for black holes even behind large amounts of obscuring gas and dust.

Here's some NASA press releases for some of the papers I have led:

NASA's Swift Mission Probes an Exotic Object: ‘Kicked’ Black Hole or Mega Star?

Nearby Galaxy Boasts Two Monster Black Holes, Both Active

NASA's Swift Survey finds 'Smoking Gun' of Black Hole Activation

 

 

@ 2017 Michael Koss