Intro

Places to find me: on the roof of the CfA, stargazing; at the Black Hole Initiative on a Sunday night, working on a publication; at the gym early in the morning, starting the day off right; next to the Mystic River, working on an a new art piece; in my office at the SAO, banging my head against some problem.

My Work

Picture: The imaging team of the EHT, which made the famous first picture of a black hole, standing with an early version of the image at the 2018 EHT Imaging Workshop. I am second from the left on the right side of the image.

Curriculum Vitae

In Fall 2021, I will begin my Ph.D. at my UC Santa Barbara as an NSF Fellowship , studying supernova, dark energy, and cosmology with Dr. Andy Howell.
As a collaborator on the Event Horizon Telescope project, I helped take the first image of a black hole. I work primarily on imaging (turning the data we collect from observations into images), modeling (making assumptions about the form of the data and finding models that best fit it), and theory (developing the physics behind our understanding of the shadow of a black hole). I also participate in observations, multiwavelength coverage analysis, weather prediction at EHT sites, and general software development. For my work on the EHT, I was named a co-recipient of the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, along with the EHT Collaboration.

About

Currently, I am a Ph.D. student working under an NSF Fellowship at UC Santa Barbara on supernova and dark energy.

I was on the team that took the first image of a black hole, at the time the first and only undergraduate. I received a B.S. in physics at the University of Massachusetts Boston (class of 2021). I have co-authored 20 journal publications, 3 technical publications, and 4 conference publications as of July 2, 2021; given many talks on my work with the Event Horizon Telescope; and have developed new ways to model and image the black hole shadow in Kerr. I've had the privilege of working under the legendary Melissa Franklin and the brilliant Michael Johnson.

I am an NSF Fellow and a 2019 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, the first from my alma mater UMass Boston, and was named one of 7 finalists for the national 2020 LeRoy Apker Award. Selected awards include: the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award, the NSF Diamond Achievement Award, the Northrop-Grumman Scholarship, and the Alton J. Brann Endowed Scholarship. Fellowships I have received include the Smithsonian Graduate Fellowship (2x) and the Oracle Fellowship (2x). I was named one of Boston's annual 25 Under 25.

For fun, I enjoy making art, quarter-mile drag racing, exercising, and working on unnecessary tech projects. But more than anything else, I enjoy a good laugh.

Supernova

Source: Chandra

Type Ia (SNe) are used as standard candles for measupernovaesuring distances across the cosmos. The unique property that lets them be used so is their adherence to the Chandrasekhar limit, which places a hard limit on how large a white dwarf can be before it must go supernova. As a result, these supernova are thought to all have the same intrinsic brightness, and therefore when observed, communicate information about their distance.

However, recently, some Type Ia supernova have seemingly exceeded this limit, throwing our understanding of these objects--and our estimates of size within the entire Universe--into question.

I will be beginning my Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara in Fall 2021, working with Dr. Andy Howell and the Global Supernova Project, trying to shed light on tihs cosmic mystery.

Black holes

Source: The first image of a black hole. With the EHT Collaboration, I helped produce this image of the supermassive black hole in the elliptical galaxy Messier 87.

When observed against an illuminating background screen, black holes cast a unique shadow on the accreting material around them. The shape and size of this shadow correlates to the spin, inclination, and mass of the black hole, and allows for an extremely unique test of general relativity in the strong gravity regime.

Unfortunately, the shadow of a black hole is frustratingly small, even for the biggest black holes on the sky. However, with very-long-baseline interferometery (VLBI) and special imaging algorithms, we can produce radio wavelength images of this shadow and reveal the singularity.

While I worked at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under Michael Johnson, I was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration that took the famous first image of M87. During that time, I authored and co-authored many publications addressing black hole physics and the imaging problem.

Cosmology

Contact

Institution: Harvard Smithsonian-Astropysical Observatory
Address: 160 Concord Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138
Work contact info: Harvard-Smithsonian CfA staff page
Email: jrfarah1999 AT gmail DOT com

Swing by for a cup of Joe, or send me an email!


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