The popular notion of a black hole "sucking in everything" from its surroundings only happens very close to a black hole. Far away, the pull of the black hole is identical to that of anything else of the same mass.
However, black holes do give rise to many remarkable phenomena such as extragalactic quasars and, in our own Galaxy, microquasars. This is because gravity is not the only law of physics that must be obeyed. Matter can be spun off from near black holes in the form of winds and jets that spread through their surroundings and thus cause black holes to have tremendous cosmic influence many light years beyond their event horizons.
Professor Katherine Blundell, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, will describe various approaches that she employs to investigate these phenomena, and their spin-offs.
The festival forms part of the public engagement activities of the Department of Physics at Oxford University.