I am a professional astronomer specializing in extragalactic astrophysics. In particular, I am interested in quasars and quasar jets. These are supermassive black holes which are the precursors to normal galaxies. My research consists of making observations in the optical (visual) of particularly violent active galactic nuclei (AGN), aptly named blazars.
I use remote observing to take images of blazars when they are active, and download those images. I calibrate and measure the images with proprietary software to get the brightness of the AGN. The data acquired is then passed on to others who combine our data with data taken at similar times in radio, X-ray, and very high energy gamma-ray wavelengths.
This multifrequency campaign paints an entire picture of the behavior of the system over the course of several months. We then analyze the data to determine the size and mass of the supermassive black hole, the structure of the accretion disk surrounding the black hole, the presence or absence of extragalactic jets, and the radiation mechanisms involved.