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Friday, February 11, 2011
Physics Building, Room 204
Note special time.
[Host: PQ Hung]
"Supermassive Black Holes and the Evolution of Galaxies"
The first galaxies were small condensations of baryonic matter that fell into the gravitational potentials of dark-matter halos, and larger galaxies are still being assembled from smaller ones by heirarchical merging. Black holes quickly formed and grew in their centers, and energy feedback from these supermassive black holes
(SMBHs) dominated the subsequent growth and stellar composition of large galaxies, making them "red, dead, and elliptical" today. To constrain the role of SMBHs in galaxy evolution we recently measured accurate nuclear masses of six Seyfert galaxies using the Keplerian rotation curves of circumnuclear water masers observed with 0.0003 arcsec resolution. The nuclear mass densities are so high that they are consistent only with supermassive black holes, not dense star clusters. Because nearly all galaxies contain SMBHs, recently merged galaxies should contain inspiraling binary SMBHs that may merge and emit very energetic and anisotropic bursts of gravitational radiation.
We recently began the first systematic search for inspiraling, binary, or recoiling SMBHs in hundreds of nearby massive galaxies.
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