New Insights on Supermassive Black Holes in Galaxy Mergers from the James Webb Space Telescope

Vivian U
UC Irvine
Thursday, May 18, 2023
3:30 pm
RH 101 + Zoom Seminar


The upcoming decades will present exciting opportunities to explore the physics of merging supermassive black holes from both gravitational waves and electromagnetic perspectives. The electromagnetic identification of dual and binary candidates with subsequent detailed follow-up observations will become routine. Thus, a study of the nuclear environments hosting these events in galaxy mergers provides the necessary groundwork for understanding the astrophysics of merging black holes. In this talk, I will present early JWST results from our Great Observatories All-sky LIRG Survey designed to probe the nuclear environments of accreting black holes or active galactic nuclei (AGN) in galaxy mergers. Surprises and controversies thus far include the presence (or absence) of AGN in some merging systems, the larger (or smaller) dust grain size close to the AGN that resulted from its radiation field, and the effect of its feedback on the local interstellar medium (or lack thereof). The power of high-resolution studies in dissecting how systems dynamically evolve will become indispensable for understanding the physics of merging supermassive black holes as we enter an exciting era of observational astronomy with the imminence of the Roman Space Telescope, 30-meter class telescopes, and beyond.

Zoom link:

Kevork Abazajian and Asantha Cooray