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Eric Perlman, Ph.D. - Florida Tech. Melbourne, FL, US

Eric Perlman, Ph.D.

Professor | Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences | Florida Tech


Dr. Perlman is an observational astrophysicist whose research concentrates on the nuclei of galaxies.


Answers (4)

How do these Euclid images connect to your research?

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My own research is on the centers of galaxies, particularly their central black holes. Most supermassive black holes don’t do very much. Like the one in the center of our galaxy, they sit there, taking in matter when it gets too close, but they don’t take in much matter or have bright accretion flows because matter isn’t being forced inside.One of the questions I’m most interested in is, what causes a black hole to become active, take in lots of material and have bright accretion flows? We can only study that with the kinds of multi-scale views of a galaxy that Euclid is providing. I also study jets: large and energetic flows of matter coming out of the centers of galaxies that are actively accreting. Euclid’s wide-angle view is going to give us an appreciation of their structure and impact on surrounding matter in new ways we’ve never been able to look at before.

How do these new Euclid images change our understanding of dark matter and dark energy?

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What these images do is to give us a view of both dark matter and dark energy (the term for the unknown source of the universe’s expansion) that is much broader scale than anything we’ve ever seen. Dark matter, for example, interacts with normal matter via gravity alone. It emits no light. So, the only way we can see it is by looking at the distribution of matter and observing what it does to light via gravity. If we do this on both the large and small scales, we look at how it clumps together, and maybe we’ll be able to discover if that is different from normal matter. Dark energy is also difficult to study. It seems to affect how the expansion of the universe changes with time, but we have no idea what it is, or how it has evolved in history. This large-scale, 3D view will help us try to understand how dark energy has evolved, whether it has changed with time, and what the relationship of dark energy and dark matter may be.

How do these images and Euclid itself compare to the James Webb Space Telescope?

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What’s different about these images is their wide-angle view, as well as the fact that they are in the optical and near-infrared. JWST is specifically an infrared telescope. Any image you see from JWST is in a different band – a significantly longer wavelength – so you’re looking more through the dust and at cooler stars or gas. Euclid would show you the larger scale distribution of the stuff, and of course if the stars or gas is warmer. And then, there’s the wide-angle versus very deep and fine-scale – take any image, and those two views give you widely different illustrations. It’s the same thing here. Euclid also has a second instrument that allows it to take low-resolution spectra of the sky, so it will be able to give us not just a wide-angle view, but a wide-angle, 3D view, measuring also the distance of objects on a large scale.

Areas of Expertise (6)

James Webb Space Telescope

Galactic Activity

Galactic Nuclei


Black Holes



Dr. Eric Perlman is an observational astrophysicist whose research concentrates on the nuclei of galaxies, their physics and evolution, particularly those in which the central black hole has a large rate of accretion and is abnormally active (the so-called active galactic nuclei, or AGN).

He also specializes in the structure and physics of high-velocity outflows from compact objects and AGN, particularly, jets. He has a strong interest in clusters of galaxies, galactic activity in clusters and observational cosmology. He takes a multiwaveband approach to these subjects, and has worked in virtually every energy range from the radio through gamma-rays.

Dr. Perlman has, in the process of his research, received over $2 million in grants, including two 5-year NASA Long-Term Space Astrophysics Program grants, a 3-year NSF grant, and multiple smaller grants for observations with the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory.

He is a member of the AGN science team for CanariCam, a first-light instrument for the Gran Telescopio Canarias, currently the largest ground-based optical/infrared telescope.

Dr. Perlman came to Florida Tech in 2007 after postdoctoral fellowships at Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute, as well as research staff and research faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He maintains a large research group that includes a postdoctoral fellow as well as typically 3-4 graduate students and an equal number of undergraduate research assistants.

In his spare time, he enjoys chess, singing, Scrabble, playing with his kids, reading, photography and working out.

Research Focus (1)

A Multifaceted Astrophysicist

Dr. Perlman's research spans several areas of astrophysics, and my contributions in each have been strong, well cited and diverse. His main area of expertise is in the field of high-energy astrophysics, specifically the physics of active galaxies, where he has made important contributions to our knowledge of jets, the high-energy, relativistic flows that emerge from the central regions of the most powerful AGN. He has made critical contributions to the physical processes responsible for their emission, their response to stimuli and variability, and also made available a database of these objects. He has also done ground-breaking work on cosmology, including work at the very edge of physics and astrophysics, laying out the geometry and framework for tests of quantum gravity using astronomical observations of the most distant quasars, and on the distribution of clusters of galaxies in the local and distant universe. He parlayed these important accomplishments into two large chapters in graduate-level textbooks on extragalactic astrophysics, published during the last two years.

Media Assets




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Dr. Eric Perlman, Astronomy Professor at Florida Tech, on his use of Webb & Hubble Telescopes


Media Appearances (6)

Are We There Yet? (space podcast)

WMFE Orlando  radio


The first images from the James Webb Space Telescope are out, revealing thousands of ancient galaxies, nebulae, and a close-up look at a planet outside our own solar system. The images are stunning and only just the beginning. We’ll break down this first batch of images with Florida Institute of Technology’s Eric Perlman and talk about what’s to come from this brand new observatory in the sky.

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Impact of black hole winds, radiation examined in new study

Phys.org  online


"The impact of AGN outflows on the surface habitability of terrestrial planets in the Milky Way," published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is a research paper by the team of astrobiologist Manasvi Lingam and astrophysicist Eric Perlman from Florida Tech's Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences, as well as researchers from the University of Rome, University of Maryland and Goddard Space Flight Center.

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James Webb Space Telescope reaches orbit location, will start to unlock mysteries of the universe



“These are galaxies and stars that we are seeing from 14 billion years ago. So it’s mind-blowing,” said Eric Perlman of Florida Tech.

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NASA, ESA target Christmas morning launch of $10 billion telescope

Spectrum News  tv


More powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, Webb is designed to peer back in time to about 100 million years after the Big Bang. “Hubble and all the other telescopes have been able to get us back to 600 or 700 million years after the Big Bang. But that 600 or 700 million years between the Big Bang and where Hubble has been able to get us to, a lot goes on,” said Dr. Eric Perlman, an astrophysicist at Florida Tech in Melbourne. “It’s a lot that we haven’t seen and it’s stuff that we need to learn about in order to figure out how it is that the universe came into being and came to be the way that we see it today.”

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Hubble replacement telescope with much greater capabilities set for launch (guest column)

Florida Today  print


Importantly, unlike Hubble, JWST can observe in the infrared, and its angular resolution in the infrared improves on Hubble’s. Because the expansion of the universe moves the light from the earliest galaxies and stars into the infrared, JWST is uniquely able to view these objects. And JWST is a more powerful tool for observing exoplanets because the stars they orbit are fainter in the infrared, while the exoplanets are brighter.

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Florida Tech Astrophysicist Eric Perlman Ready for Webb Telescope’s Answers on Black Hole, Exoplanets

Space Coast Daily News  


A fledgling astronomer since early childhood and now an accomplished astrophysicist at one of the country’s leading research institutions, Florida Tech’s Eric Perlman is excited about Dec. 24.

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Education (2)

University of Colorado Boulder: Ph.D., Astrophysics 1994

Occidental College: A.B., Physics 1989


Selected Articles (5)

Probing Spacetime Foam with Extragalactic Sources of High-Energy Photons



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The impact of AGN outflows on the surface habitability of terrestrial planets in the Milky Way Get access Arrow

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


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New Tests of Milli-lensing in the Blazar PKS 1413 + 135

The Astrophysical Journal


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Light-curve Evolution of the Nearest Tidal Disruption Event: A Late-time, Radio-only Flare

The Astrophysical Journal


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The Relativistic Jet Orientation and Host Galaxy of the Peculiar Blazar PKS 1413+135

The Astrophysical Journal


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Affiliations (3)

  • International X-ray Observatory Science Associates : Member
  • AAS Working Group on Professional-Amateur Collaboration : Member
  • CanariCam Science Team : Member