Batcheldor, Daniel

Head, Physics and Space Sciences
Physics and Space Sciences

My research started with the supermassive black holes. These exotic objects, whose masses can reach billions of times that of the Sun, have been observed at, or near, the centers of galaxies. I use photometric, spectroscopic, and polarimetric techniques to examine the role that supermassive black holes may have played in the evolution of galaxies. How galaxies form and evolve is one of the greatest mysteries still remaining in contemporary astrophysics; do they coalesce from giant clouds of gas, or via huge cosmic collisions? Similarly, do supermassive black holes get their huge masses from the accretion of gas that produces the quasar and active galaxy phenomena, by merging with one another, or a mixture of the two? 

In the last decade, important clues to these questions have been provided by both observations and theoretical predictions. First, seemingly tight correlations between the masses of central black holes and properties of the host galaxies have been observed. This lead me to conduct research, funded by the Space Telescope Science Institute, to determine the precise nature of these observed relations. If confirmed, this work would have provided important evidence for the theory that black holes and galaxies are coeval. However, it seems that these observed relations can easily be reproduced simply by considering the intrinsic selection effects that come with studying supermassive black holes. Second, models of supermassive black hole collisions using numerical relativity have predicted that post-merger black holes may be "kicked" from the centers of galaxies. I have been searching for the observational signature of such offsets, and serendipitously found one in the iconic galaxy M87. 

I have also been conducting research into the next generation of imaging devices that are theorteically capable of imaging Earth-like planets around other stars. This research started with a small grant from the American Astronomical Society to fund a special camera for our campus telescope. This has seeded further funding from the Mt. Cuba Foundation to take one of these same cameras to our telescope on the Canary Islands, where the observing conditions are much better. In addition, this camera has been selected by CASIS to fly on the International Space Station in 2016. This payload will be installed on the NanoRacks External Platform for approximately six months while we qualify it to fly on future space missions.

Personal Overview

The majority of my research requires spatial resolutions and sensitivities that are unobtainable on the ground. Consequently, I have become a frequent user of the Hubble Space Telescope, and have performed an on-orbit re-calibration of the NICMOS instrument to allow 2 micron imaging polarimetry at a level of one percent. However, working with members of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, I have shown that Hubble is reaching its limit in terms of answering the remaining, and varied, questions regarding supermassive black holes. This has precipitated my active involvement with the development of the next generation of space-based detectors that are likely to be used on-board the space-based telescopes of the future.

Educational Background

BSc (Hons) Astronomy University of Hertfordshire 2001
Ph.D. Astrophysics University of Hertfordshire 2004

Current Courses

Physics 1 - Newtonian Dynamics

Physics 2 - Electricity & Magnetism

Physics Review - Supplimental physics for select transfer students

Physics & Space Sciences Seminar

Observational Astronomy - Lecture-lab covering the celestial sphere and optical observations of stars to quasars.

Methods and Instrumentation - Telescope Optics, solid state detectors, data reduction techniques.

Astrophysics 1 - The Nature of Stars (undergraduate)

Astrophysics 2 - Galaxies and the Universe (undergraduate)

Astrophysics 2 - Cosmology & Large Scale Structures, Active Galactic Nuclei, Galactic Dynamics (graduate)

Senior Seminar - Preparing seniors for graduation and life beyond university.

Professional Experience

Head. Department of Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology (2014+).

Associate Professor. Department of Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology (2014+).

Assistant Professor. Department of Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology (2010-2014).

Director, Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope, Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (2014+).

Director, Olin Observatory. Department of Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology (2010+).

Associate Research Scientist. Center for Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology (2008-2009).

Adjunct Professor. Department of Physics, Rochester Institute of Technology (2008-2009).

Assistant Research Scientist. Center for Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology (2006-2008).

Post-doctoral Research Associate. Department of Physics, Rochester Institute of Technology (2005-2006).

Post-doctoral Research Associate. School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics, University of Hertfordshire (2005).

Support Astronomer. Isaac Newton Group, La Palma (1999-2000).

Additional Duties

Director, Olin Observatory.

Director, Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope.

Academic Integrity Committee, Chair.

Undergraduate Curriculum Committee PSS prepresentative.

Southeastern Associate for Research in Astronomy (SARA) Board member.

Student Astronomical Society Advisor.

Secular Student Alliance at Florida Tech, founder and Advisor.

Astronomy & Astrophysics Public Lecture Series co-ordinator.

Astronomy & Astrophysics program contact.

Coach, FIT Rugby.

Current Research

Extreme Contrast Ratio Imaging of Bright Star Fields

Development and Deployment of a Charge Injection Device on the International Space Station

Reverberation Mapping of the size of the Dusty Tori in Active Galactic Nuclei - Spitzer Proposal ID #80120

The importance warm outflows in the most rapidly evolving galaxies in the local Universe -HST-GO-12934

Where do Black Holes get their kicks? - HST-AR-11771

Dynamical Hypermassive Black Hole Masses - HST-GO-11606

An ACS Treasury Survey of the Coma cluster of galaxies - HST-GO-10861

Previous Research

Resolving the Critical Ambiguities of the M-Sigma Relation - HST-AR-10935

The NICMOS Polarimetric Calibration - HST-GO-10839

The nuclear scattering geometry of Seyfert galaxies - HST-GO-10160

Selected Publications

Batcheldor, D at ADS
Batcheldor, D at Astro-ph

Vazquez, B. et al. 2015ApJ...801..127VSpitzer Space Telescope Measurements of Dust Reverberation Lags in the Seyfert 1 Galaxy NGC 6418.

Lena, D. et al. 2014ApJ...795..146LRecoiling Supermassive Black Holes: A Search in the Nearby Universe.

Rodríguez Zaurín, J. et al. 2014A&A...571A...57RExtended warm gas in the ULIRG Mrk273: Galactic outflows and tidal debris.

Ramírez, E. A. et al. 2014MNRAS...444...466RNear-infrared Hubble Space Telescope polarimetry of a complete sample of narrow-line radio galaxies.

Bosh, A. et al. 2013DPS...45...40401BThe State of Pluto's Atmosphere in 2012-2013.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2013AJ...146...67B. An STIS Atlas of Ca II Triplet Absorption Line Kinematics in Galactic Nuclei.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2011ASPC..449...44BHigh Accuracy Imaging Polarimetry with NICMOS.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2011ApJ...738...90BNICMOS Polarimetry of "Polar-scattered" Seyfert 1 Galaxies.

Hammer, D. et al. 2010ApJS, 191, 143HThe HST/ACS Coma Cluster Survey. II. Data Description and Source Catalogs.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2010, ApJ, 717, L6. A Displaced Supermassive Black Hole in M87.

Batcheldor, D. 2010, ApJ, 711, L108. The M-Sigma Relation Derived from Sphere of Influence Arguments.

Batcheldor. D.; Koekemoer, A. M. 2009, PASP, v121, i885, pp.1245. The Future of Direct Supermassive Black Hole Mass Estimates.

Ramrez, E. et al. 2009, MNRAS, v339, i4, pp.2165. The nature of the near-infrared core source in 3C 433.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2009, PASP, v121, i876, pp.153. High Accuracy Near-infrared Imaging Polarimetry with NICMOS.

Koekemoer, A. M. et al. Astro2010: The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, Science White Papers, no. 157. Tracing the Mass Buildup of Supermassive Black Holes and their Host Galaxies.

Batcheldor, D. Memorie della Societa Astronomica Italiana, v.79, p.1239 (2008). The M-Sigma Project.

Carter, D. et al. 2008, ApJS, v176, i2, pp.425. The Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys Coma Cluster Survey. I. Survey Objectives and Design.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2007, ApJ, v663, i2, pp.L85. How Special Are Brightest Cluster Galaxies? The Impact of Near-Infrared Luminosities on Scaling Relations for BCGs.

Pastorini, G. et al. 2007, A&A, v469, i2, pp.405. Supermassive black holes in the Sbc spiral galaxies NGC 3310, NGC 4303 and NGC 4258.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2007, ApJ, v661, i2, pp.70. Dominant Nuclear Outflow Driving Mechanisms in Powerful Radio Galaxies.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2006, PASP, v118, i842, pp.642. The NICMOS Polarimetric Calibration.

Merritt, D. et al. 2006, MNRAS, v367, i4, pp.1746. The nature of the HE0450-2958 system.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2005, ApJS, v160, i1, pp.76. Integral Field Spectroscopy of 23 Spiral Bulges.

Hughes, M. A. et al. 2005, AJ, v130, i1, pp.73. Nuclear Properties of Nearby Spiral Galaxies from Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS Imaging and STIS Spectroscopy.

Atkinson, J. W. 2005, MNRAS, v359, i2, pp.504. Supermassive black hole mass measurements for NGC 1300 and 2748 based on Hubble Space Telescope emission-line gas kinematics.

Hughes, M. A. et al. 2004, IAUS, No.222, p.181. Nuclear clusters, bulges and massive black holes in spiral galaxies.

Batcheldor, D. et al. 2004, IAUS, No.222, p.73. Host bulge properties: The key to SMBH mass estimates?

Scarlata, C. et al. 2004, AJ, v128, i3, pp.1124. Nuclear Properties of a Sample of Nearby Spiral Galaxies from Hubble Space Telescope STIS Imaging.

Hughes, M. A. et al. 2003, AJ, v126, i2, pp.742. An Atlas of Hubble Space Telescope Spectra and Images of Nearby Spiral Galaxies.

Marconi, A. et al. 2003, ApJ, v586, i2, pp.868. Is There Really a Black Hole at the Center of NGC 4041? Constraints from Gas Kinematics.