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December 5, 202211:30 am – 12:30 pm (CDT)

Illuminating the Darkness: Using Nuclear Transients to Study Black Holes


Tom Holoien (Carnegie Observatories)


Justin Spilker



Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy

College Station, Texas 77843

Event Details

Historically, our study of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) has been limited largely to active galactic nuclei, which undergo long-term, relatively steady accretion. In recent years, however, the advent of modern sky surveys has led to an increase in the discovery of flares from tidal disruption events (TDEs) and other unusual nuclear outbursts, which in turn has allowed us to probe black holes and accretion physics in new ways. In my talk I will discuss my work using nearby nuclear transients discovered by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) and other transient surveys to study SMBHs and accretion physics. I will focus in particular on TDEs discovered shortly after beginning to brighten and events monitored at very late times, two areas where our observations have historically been lacking, and how observations at these times are crucial to fully understanding the physics behind these extremely energetic transients. I will also highlight how TESS can provide a unique window into the physics of TDEs. Finally, I will close with a discussion of what questions remain to be addressed, and how the current generation of surveys can be used to prepare us for the influx of transients coming in the era of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

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