Associate Director, UMBC
Director of the Center for Space Science and Technology (CSST), UMBC
Ph.D. Physics – University of Leciester (UK), 1988
B.Sc. Mathematics with Astronomy – University of Leicester (UK), 1984
Dr. Turner worked previously for the Universities Space Research Association as an associate research scientist on base at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. There she worked on several projects, including supporting guest observers for the ROSAT mission, and scientific time-line planning for the BBXRT instrument flown on shuttle mission STS 35.
Dr Turners work concentrates on the study of active galactic nuclei (AGN). While all galaxies are now thought to harbor million-billion solar mass black holes at their center, only a small fraction of these are actively accreting gas; this accretion process results in the release of a large amount of energy very close to the nuclear black hole leading to these being known as ‘active’ galactic nuclei. X-rays are produced very close to the black hole and thus studying AGN in the X-ray bandpass allows us a unique probe of accreting systems and of material in the strong gravity regime.
Work at UMBC is focused on studying the X-ray spectra of AGN. The observed spectra are the sum of an X-ray continuum and reprocessed X-ray emission. The X-ray continuum likely arises from ultraviolet photons produced in the accretion disk that upscatter to X-ray energies in a plasma of relativistic electrons. Some of this X-ray continuum radiation shines back on to the accretion disk surface and ‘reflects’ from that, and all of the radiation travels through clouds of gas that shroud the nucleus before reaching the observer. These interactions of X-rays and material in the nucleus produce an imprint on the X-ray spectrum of many emission and absorption features that allow diagnostics to be made of these accreting systems. Dr Turner is currently concentrating on analysis and interpretation of data from the Chandra, XMM-Newton and NuSTAR satellites.
Dr. Turner has been the recipient of numerous research grants, primarily funded by NASA. She has authored more than 180 papers in refereed journals. Dr. Turner is a member of the ADVANCE Executive Committee at UMBC, that develops and implement policies which promote the recruitment and advancement of women faculty in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
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