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2018 Hot Sci @ STScI

To Grow a Supermassive Black Hole: Investigating the Connection Between Mergers and the Diverse Family of Active Galactic Nuclei

Presented by: Erini Lambrides  (Johns Hopkins University)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 30 minutes   Broadcast date: July 25, 2018
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Central super-massive black hole growth occurs over short-lived periods (10 - 100 Myrs), and in order for matter to fall within a black hole's sphere of influence, it needs to lose almost all of its angular momentum. Mergers have been proposed as the driving mechanism for central super-massive black hole growth, but observational evidence for this fueling scenario yields mixed results. Growing central super-massive black holes or active galactic nuclei (AGN) exist in a variety of host environments. It is undetermined whether the merger driven AGN fueling is a viable mechanism for all types of AGN sub-types and host galaxies. In this talk, I outline the necessity and complications of accurately characterizing the host galaxies of AGN via a large extragalactic sample (GOODS N/S, COSMOS, AEGIS fields) with a well sampled wavelength range (X-ray to Radio photometry) and deep optical/UV/NIR imaging via HST. We find evidence for the X-ray luminosity in the integrated .5-10 keV range to be underestimated by an order of magnitude for 50% of our X-ray selected AGN sample. We discuss the implications this has for AGN classification in the context of the merger scenario.