Niel Brandt

Distinguished Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics

514A Davey Lab
University Park, PA 16802

Phone: +1 814-865-3509
Fax: +1 814-863-3399


Personal webpage
Niel Brandt

Research Interests:

W. Niel Brandt has been at Penn State since 1997 and is currently a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. His main areas of research include (1) active galaxies and quasars, (2) cosmological X-ray and multiwavelength surveys, and (3) high-energy astrophysics. Since 1999 he has been using the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission-Newton to study the physics, evolution, and ecology of active galaxies and other cosmic X-ray sources. He also utilizes data from a variety of other projects, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), and in the future he plans to study active galaxies with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Some of the key research questions he is working to address are the following:

Research Milestones and Discoveries

Creation of the most sensitive X-ray surveys of the extragalactic universe. These have significantly constrained the cosmic growth of supermassive black holes, determined the importance of black-hole accretion within the overall cosmic energy budget, measured the active galactic nucleus content of forming massive galaxies, and detected X-ray emission from cosmologically distant starburst and normal galaxies.

Studies of winds from active galaxies, ranging from local Seyfert galaxies to distant quasars. X-ray gratings studies of Seyfert winds have utilized hundreds of detected atomic features to provide qualitatively new information about wind physical conditions, kinematics, and geometry, and X-ray spectroscopy of distant quasars has clarified their wind geometries, mass-ejection rates, and role in feedback.

X-ray observations of the first supermassive black holes in the Universe. My group has increased the number of X-ray detected active galaxies at z > 4 by more than an order of magnitude, showing that X-ray emission is a universal and stable property of accreting supermassive black holes out to the reionization epoch.

Research Facilities

Chandra Deep Field South

Currently Utilized: