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The Hidden Monsters: New Windows on the Cosmic Evolution of Supermassive Black Holes
April 9, 201811:30 am – 12:30 pm (CDT)

The Hidden Monsters: New Windows on the Cosmic Evolution of Supermassive Black Holes


Ryan Hickox (Dartmouth College)



Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy

College Station, Texas 77843

Event Details

At the heart of essentially every large galaxy in the Universe lies a supermassive black hole. In the past decade, surveys of the extragalactic sky have made great progress in understanding the cosmic growth of these black holes, as they “eat” surrounding material and radiate as active galactic nuclei (AGN). However, our picture of black hole evolution has remained incomplete, due to the challenges of detecting black holes that are highly obscured by gas and dust or hidden beneath thelight of their host galaxies. With the advent of new resources including hard X-ray observations from NuSTAR, mid-infrared data from WISE, and new insights from theoretical models, we can now identify millions of these “hidden” growing black holes across much the sky, and characterize the nature of their obscuration and their role in the formation of galaxies. I will describe recent efforts to characterize these “hidden” black holes, particularly highlighting work by our group at Dartmouth, and will present evidence that (at least some) powerful obscured AGN represent an evolutionary phase in the evolution of their host galaxies. Finally, I will point to the exciting potential for future of AGN population studies with the next generation of extragalactic surveys, including with NASA’s Lynx concept X-ray mission.

Video Recording

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