George Mason University
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the centers of galaxies, which manifest as active galactic nuclei (AGNs) when accreting, are now known to be a fundamental component of galaxies and play an important role in their evolution. Detecting complete samples of AGNs and understanding their connection to the properties of the host galaxies in which they reside has therefore been an extremely important goal of extragalactic astronomy. Over the past several decades, it has become clear that a large fraction of AGNs are missed in optical surveys due either to obscuration of the central engine, or contamination of the optical emission lines from star formation in the host galaxy. This is a significant deficiency, because these elusive AGNs are often found in key phases of galaxy evolution, such as late stage galaxy mergers, when the black hole is expected to grow most rapidly, or in low mass and bulgeless galaxies, a galaxy population that may place important constraints on models of SMBH ‘seed’ formation and merger-free models to SMBH growth.
In this talk, I will focus on our work in uncovering elusive AGNs in low mass galaxies and mergers, and will discuss our upcoming JWST Cycle 1 Program aimed at uncovering intermediate mass black holes.