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Brenneman, Laura

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory staff


My research primarily focuses on understanding high-energy processes at work around supermassive black holes (SMBHs).  For my Ph.D. thesis I created the first publicly accessible model to measure the spins of black holes based on their X-ray "reflection" spectra, and I subsequently made the first measurements of the angular momenta of SMBHs in active galactic nuclei (AGN) using this model.  This subject matter remains a central component of my research at SAO: I investigate black hole spin both observationally and theoretically, working toward an understanding of how AGN and their SMBHs co-evolve through the processes of accretion and energetic outflows. I also have leadership roles in several current, planned and proposed X-ray missions, including XMM-Newton, NuSTAR, XRISM, Athena, Arcus, STROBE-X, HEX-P and Lynx.

education and training