Unresolved questions about the nature of supermassive black holes, gravitational monsters at the heart of nearly all large galaxies, were at the forefront of a recent conference at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Held in August, the conference, “Massive Black Holes: Birth, Growth and Impact,” brought together a diverse group of scientists from around the world to discuss how the first supermassive black holes may have formed, how they grew so fast in the early universe, and what role they played in the formation and growth of the first galaxies.
Among the topics: how theoretical predictions describing the formation and growth of these astronomical objects are failing to explain our latest astronomical observations.
“At this conference it has become clear that we are missing something when trying to explain how a black hole grows into a supermassive black hole found in the center of a galaxy,” said Priyamvada Natarajan, a professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. “For decades we’ve expected these supermassive black holes were all originally small black holes that somehow grew into these monsters at the hearts of galaxies. But our computer simulations of black hole growth, based largely on theoretical ideas, show that they prematurely stunt their own growth and fail to become the heaviest supermassive black holes that we are detecting. So our theories need to be revised.”
Natarajan remarks came at the end of the conference when she participated in a Kavli Foundation roundtable discussion with three other speakers: Andrea Merloni, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany; Tommaso Treu, a professor in the Department of Physics at U.C. Santa Barbara; and John Wise, an assistant professor at the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
According to Merloni, fundamental questions remain about even the basics about how black holes grow. “We have a theoretical understanding of how matter gets into a black hole, forming a disk around it as it does so, for example,” he said. “But we haven’t fully connected our theories to what we observe, especially with quasars, these incredibly bright centers of very distant galaxies that serve as beacons of the early universe.”
How supermassive black holes at the center of galaxy clusters interact with gas and even dark matter in the cluster is also unknown. “The most interesting (question) for me is how the outgoing energy affects the underlying distribution of dark matter,” said Treu. “We want to know because you can learn about the physical properties of dark matter – whether it interacts with itself, whether it is warm or cold, and so on. But in order to understand that, you need to understand dark matter’s relationship to black holes – how black holes and dark matter “talk” to each other.”
More from the roundtable discussion can be found at The Kavli Foundation’s website: http://www.kavlifoundation.org/science-spotlights/black-holes-revisited
LIVE GOOGLE HANGOUT: On Sept. 11 from Noon-12:30 PDT, The Kavli Foundation will host a Google Hangout on supermassive black holes with three researchers: Roger Blandford from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University, Priyamvada Natarajan from Yale University and John Wise from Georgia Tech. Details on this Hangout can be found at http://www.kavlifoundation.org/science-spotlights/spotlight-live-black-holes-cosmic-evolution
James Cohen | Newswise
SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute
New survey hints at exotic origin for the Cold Spot
26.04.2017 | Royal Astronomical Society
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy