Physics Colloquium: The Massive Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way
Prof. Reinhard Genzel, Max Planck Institute and UC Berkeley
Evidence has been accumulating for several decades that many galaxies harbor central mass concentrations that may be in the form of black holes with masses between a few million to a few billion time the mass of the Sun. I will discuss measurements over the last two decades, employing adaptive optics imaging and spectroscopy on large ground-based telescopes that prove the existence of such a massive black hole in the Center of our Milky Way, beyond any reasonable doubt. These data also provide key insights into its properties and environment. Most recently, a tidally disrupting cloud of gas has been discovered on an almost radial orbit that will reach it peri-distance of ~2000 Schwarzschild radii in the middle of 2013, promising to be a valuable tool for exploring the innermost accretion zone. Future interferometric studies of the Galactic Center black hole promise to be able to test gravity in its strong field limit.
Seminar Organisers: Dr. Tomer Volansky, Dr. Dovi Poznanski