Paulina Lira

Full Professor

Background & Contact Information

Ph.D. in Astronomy, 1999, U. of Edinburgh, UK.
Research Topics:Black Holes, Active Galaxies, Galaxies, Supernova
56 (2) 2 977 1138

Areas of interest

My main area of research is Black Holes in Active Galaxies, these are Black Holes much more massive than those left by the stars when they die and that have reached these gigantic masses because they are in the galactic nuclei, where the availability of gas around them has allowed them to grow through the "accretion" of large amounts of material. In particular, I study the variability of the electromagnetic emission of these objects, and this allows me to understand both the properties of the accreted material and also the properties of the Black Hole itself. There is no wavelength that he has not used in the study of these "Active Galactic Nuclei", from radio to X-rays.


My first research project consisted of the study of light curves of Supernovae from
type Ia and the estimation of the amount of redness that they suffer. I did this job
during my Master's thesis at the University of Chile, working closely with
Cerro Tololo astronomers such as Mario Hamuy, Nick Suntzeff and Mark Phillips. Product of this The Lira Law was established (, which It must have been called the Phillips-Lira-Suntzeff Law, or simply the Phillips Law, but the first name wa very long and the Phillips Act already existed (

During my doctorate I changed direction and decided that Black Holes would be my objects to study. One thing has not changed, yes, my interest in variability. The first
post during my PhD dealt with the variability of the smallest Seyfert galaxy discovered until then (and still one of the best known examples) NGC4395
( Today I study Holes
Blacks big and small (, near and far (https: //, using variability as one of the best tools for
find and characterize them (, since leave out others
methods such as optical spectroscopy ( and sub-mm ( to better understand the physics that governs them.

Courses, Projects, Recent Publications