"Supermassive Black Holes: Rulers of the Universe?" by Gordon Richards
March 17, 2011 - 11:00am
nce the realm of philosophers, black holes have now been shown to exist. Indeed, black holes as massive as 1 million to 1 billion Suns populate the cores of essentially all massive galaxies. Contrary to popular thought, these super-massive black holes are messy eaters, spewing out nearly as much (in the form of mass and energy) as they consume. This "feedback" process has been postulated to be the valve that controls the growth and evolution of their host galaxies, shaping the very evolution of our Universe. I will discuss how statistical analyses of active galactic nuclei and quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) can be used to test the hypothesis that super-massive black holes are so all-powerful. We'll find that the answer requires pushing even the currently most expansive dataset to its limits, providing an important argument for the next generation of astronomical surveys, including the LSST project.
Upcoming seminars: http://www.cra.gatech.edu/events/seminars.shtml