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Astronomy Colloquium
"Puzzles in Massive Galaxy Assembly"
Date: Thursday, January 29th
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 4421 Sterling Hall
Speaker: Nicholas McConnell, Ifa, University of Hawaii
Abstract: Do giant elliptical galaxies represent the final outcome of a common sequence of galaxy growth and merging, or are they the relics of exceptional objects that formed violently in the early universe? I will describe observational efforts to understand two features of the most massive ellipticals: their stellar populations and their supermassive black holes. (1) The Black Hole Safari is a campaign to measure stellar kinematics and central black hole masses (MBH) in over 30 giant elliptical
galaxies, spanning a range of cosmic environments. The resulting census of black holes in the local universe will assess whether the linear relation between MBH and stellar spheroid mass arises naturally from hierarchical merging, and it may shed light upon the origins of recently-discovered overmassive black holes. (2) The most massive elliptical galaxies exhibit an extremely bottom-heavy stellar initial mass function (IMF), at odds with
galaxy formation models where they are assembled from mergers of lower-mass systems. One possible means of reconciliation would be the detection of radial gradients in the IMF. I will present new measurements of IMF-sensitive spectral features with unprecedented radial coverage, suggesting that massive ellipticals' extreme are indeed confined to small radii.
Host: Prof Tremonti
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