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This Week at Physics

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Event Number 2167

  Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
The Search for the Monsters at the Centers of Galaxies
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin
Speaker: Andy Sheinis, UW Department of Astronomy
Abstract: The past decade has given rise to conclusive evidence that all galaxies harbor a super-massive black hole in their cores. A black hole is a massive body whose surface gravity is so great that light cannot escape its gravitational pull. A growing understanding of the connection between galaxies and their central black holes has emerged that relates some of the properties of the black hole, whose gravity influences only the central 1/10,000 of the galaxy, to the global properties of the entire galaxy. Furthermore the latest galaxy formation and evolution theories require the input of energy from the black hole into the galaxy to achieve the size, shape and number density of the galaxies we observe today. These facts suggest that the growth mechanisms of the black hole and galaxy must be connected. However, details of the physical processes behind this connection are not yet understood. I will present an overview of the status of the field and then discuss my research to understand the nature of some of the most massive of these objects that are in the process of consuming massive amounts of matter from their host galaxies. These objects are Quasi-Stellar Objects or QSO's, which shine brightly in the sky due to the excess gas that escapes their feeding process.
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