Avery Broderick

Avery Broderick
Associate Professor
Location: PHY 258
Phone: 519-888-4567 x41190


Dr. Broderick works to explain the fundamental physics of black holes and their observable characteristics. Black holes are sites where strong gravity dominates everything, from the dynamics of orbiting material to the shape of spacetime itself. As a result, they are the engines that power some of the brightest objects in the universe. Broderick works on scales spanning from the horizon to the cosmos, tied together by the unique physical conditions near black hole horizons.

As a member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, Broderick participates in the creation and interpretation of the first horizon-resolving images of astronomical black holes in the history of astronomy. Using large-scale computer simulations his group explores model images, looking for signatures of deviations from general relativity and the high-energy astrophysical processes responsible for the growth of black holes and the launching of outflows that extends their influence to intergalactic distances.

In addition, Broderick's group studies the cosmological impact of the gamma-ray emission of black holes. At energies a million times higher than a dentist's X ray, these gamma rays seed the voids between galaxy clusters with a population of ultrarelativistic electron-positron pairs. The subsequent evolution of the pairs is dictated by plasma physics in the extremely relativistic regime and the structure of a putative intergalactic magnetic field that fills the universe, shedding light on both. Broderick's group studies the ultimate fate of these pairs with cutting-edge numerical plasma simulations as well as the implications for cosmological magnetic fields.

Research Interests

  • Astrophysics and Gravitation
  • Imaging black holes
  • The nature of black holes
  • White dwarf - compact object binaries
  • Gamma-ray bursts
  • The dynamics of starless cores
  • Polarized radiative transfer near black holes
  • Strongly magnetized neutron stars
  • Faraday rotation measures and astrophysical plasmas
  • Astronomy

Scholarly Research

The goal of Dr. Broderick's research program is to elucidate the fundamental nature and astronomical consequences of astrophysical black holes. He does this via a number of independent projects, spanning scales from the horizon to the universe, each of which are connected by the critical role played by the extreme physical conditions near black hole horizons. His current focus is the interpretation and analysis of horizon-resolving millimeter wave observations of the supermassive black holes at the centers of the Milky Way and M87. These observations provide unprecedented access to the immediate vicinity of the horizon, and therefore to the effects of strong gravity near black holes. Hence they provide an ideal opportunity to probe both the high-energy astrophysics powering some of the most energetic phenomena in the universe and test the validity of general relativity in the strongly non-linear limit. This work involves developing both the models and the analysis techniques, often combining the high-resolution radio data with additional observations in multiple wavebands, to extract answers to the physically relevant questions. In addition, he is also involved with efforts to: 1) Assess the cosmological impact of the very-high energy gamma ray emission from a subset of active galactic nuclei (AGNs, accreting supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies), capable of heating the universe by orders of magnitude 2) Study the magnetic structure of the ultra-relativistic jets powered by AGN via coupling multi-wavelength polarization observations with state-of-the-art simulations 3) Probe the dynamics and potential signatures of white dwarf encounters with intermediate mass black holes, which show promise as a potential astronomical signature of the presence of this latter, heretofore undetected, class of black hole 4) Measure the statistical properties of Galactic stellar-mass black holes, the end points of massive star evolution, via potentially directly imaging microlensing events.


  • 2004 PhD Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, U.S.A.
  • 1999 BS Physics and Mathematics, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, U.S.A.


  • 2007, Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Derek Bok Center, Harvard University

Professional Associations

  • 2011-2013 Scientific Reports, Editorial Board Member
  • December 2009 Scientific American, Author

Affiliations and Volunteer Work

  • Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics
  • 2011 - current, Associate Faculty Member, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics


  • PHYS 263 - Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity
    • Taught in 2024
  • PHYS 363 - Intermediate Classical Mechanics
    • Taught in 2020, 2022
  • PHYS 375 - Stars
    • Taught in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Broderick, A.E., Loeb, A. Portrait of a Black Hole. Scientific American (December 2009) volume 301 pp. 42-49.
  • Please see SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System for a complete list of Dr. Broderick's publications.