Quasars and super-massive black holes

Room 1.35, Physics Department @ UWC
Fri, 02/11/2012 - 12:00 - 13:00
Stephen Fine

Since the realisation that quasars are distant, highly-luminous objects, accretion onto a super-masive black hole has been considered a likely power source. While the sphere of influence of the SMBHs is spatially unresolvable, studies of broad lines in quasar spectra appear to be able to measure the mass of SMBHs to within a factor of ~3. I will discuss how these estimators work and give some contrasting reasons to be both positive and negative about their potential. I will show some examples of how they have been applied to measure the SMBH mass function and to constrain semi-analytic models of galaxy evolution, and outline what further work is being carried out to improve quasar BH studies.