Physics Colloquium: The Formation and Growth of Massive Black Holes
Prof. Zoltan Haiman, Columbia University
Black holes as massive as several billion solar masses appeared within a billion years after the Big Bang. The origin of these objects remains a mystery. I will present three competing ideas on how such massive black holes may have formed in the early universe, (i) via catastrophic collapse of gas in protogalaxies, (ii) via rapid gas accretion onto the black hole remnants of the first stars, or (iii) via many successive mergers between black holes. I will then discuss the role of ambient gas in facilitating mergers between black holes, producing unique observational signatures, and impacting low-frequency gravitational wave emission. Upcoming observations with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and with the space-based Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will help us understand the origin of massive black holes, including the details of their mergers.
Event Organizer: Prof. Rennan Barkana (http://wise-obs.tau.ac.il/~barkana/colloq.html)