Joint Space - Science Institute (JSI)is a partnership between the University of Maryland (UMD) and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) aimed at creating a center of excellence in space science research. JSI brings together scientists from the UMD Department of Physics, UMD Department of Astronomy, and the GSFC Astrophysics Science Division, and is dedicated to fostering new areas of research at the interface of physics and space astronomy. This mission is achieved via direct collaboration between JSI Fellows and Affiliates as well as active undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral research programs.
Current areas of focus include the use of black holes as laboratories for testing General Relativity (using both gravitational wave and electromagnetic observations), plasma processes in black hole accretion flows, the particle physics of dark matter, and the implications of these fields on the formation and evolution of galaxies.
The JSI mission is to foster advances in the fields of strong gravity, high energy and particle physics by means of astrophysical and cosmological observations. Modern radio and X-ray observations are allowing scientists to see phenomena at the very edge of the event horizons of both stellar-mass and supermassive black holes. Gravitational waves may soon open a new observational window to study black hole mergers and physics in the early universe. Cosmological observations of small scale structures in the local universe and gamma ray observations are promising new tools to understand the nature of dark matter, high-energy physics and dark energy.
Black Holes and Gravity
Fundamentally, we study the physics of black holes and their influence on the Universe. Each of the JSI partners have premiere programs in different aspects of black hole physics including X-ray studies of black holes, gamma-ray studies of blazars, accretion/jet theory, gravitational wave research, and fundamental gravitation research. However, many of the most exciting and important scientific frontiers exist at the boundaries of these sub-disciplines; examples include predicting electromagnetic counterparts to LISA detected black hole mergers (involving gravitational wave physics and detailed accretion theory), or the use of X-ray observations of accreting black holes to test strong-field General Relativity (involving fundamental gravity theory and accretion theory). JSI ties together and builds upon existing strengths at UMCP and GSFC to create a unique center of scientific excellence focused on black hole physics.
Cosmology and Galaxy Evolution
Research in cosmology elucidates the evolution of the universe, as well as its fundamental physical laws. The upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), and the proposed International X-ray Observatory (IXO), NASA/DOE Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) and Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will produce key observations about galaxies, dark matter, and dark energy. The success of observational cosmology, however, requires characterizing and understanding the astrophysical filters that affect the cosmological observations. A joint effort by astronomers, physicists, theoreticians, and observers will lead to new understandings of the origin and history of galaxies, including our own. JSI allows us to combine areas of excellence in each of the partner institutions to pursue an integrated and synergistic program in key areas of astrophysics related to dark matter, dark energy, and structure formation.