To constrain the era when the first galaxies and stars appeared upcoming instruments will rely on the brightest events in the universe: supernovae and brilliant emission from massive black holes. In this dissertation, we investigate the observability of certain types of supernovae of the very first stars (Population III stars) and find that while these events are sufficiently luminous to be observed with deep-sky instruments such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), they may not observe these particular types of events in their lifetimes. We next explore the origins of massive black holes and introduce the direct collapse hypothesis of supermassive black hole formation. We model CR7, an apparently metal-free, luminous, Lyman-alpha emitting galaxy, as if it were powered by a massive direct collapse black hole and find that such a black hole can account for CR7's impressive Lyman-alpha flux. We finally investigate the nature of the connection between water megamasers, very bright radio sources originating from population inversion in dense, shocked gas around massive black holes and hydroxyl megamasers which generally accompany star formation. We carry out a ~ 60 hour radio survey for water emission among galaxies hosting OH megamaser hosts to assess the connection between the two types of emission. We find marginally statistically significant evidence that OH megamasers exclude water kilomasers and confirm with high levels of significance (> 8 sigma) the presence of a water megamaser in II Zw 96, establishing this object as the second galaxy known to cohost simultaneous water and hydroxyl megamasers.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Physics and Astronomy



Date Submitted


Document Type





supernovae, black holes, Lyman-alpha, megamaser