College of Science

Seminar: Catherine Grier [Penn State]

Weighing the Monsters of the Universe: Measuring the Masses of Supermassive Black Holes with Reverberation Mapping

Feb 27, 2018 11:00 AM to Feb 27, 2018 12:00 PM at Building 8, Room 241

Supermassive black holes, with masses that range from tens of thousands to billions of times the mass of our Sun, are thought to be present in nearly every galaxy in the Universe and may affect the growth and evolution of these galaxies. In order to understand how galaxies evolve, we must therefore understand the role played by supermassive black holes. To this end, we require accurate measurements of supermassive black hole masses in galaxies across the entire universe. We measure these masses in distant galaxies by observing objects called active galactic nuclei, or quasars, which have supermassive black holes with large amounts of matter falling into them. Specifically, we use a technique called reverberation mapping, which relies on light echoes that "reverberate" out from very close in to the black hole to more distant gas clouds. In my talk, I will discuss supermassive black holes and the technique of reverberation mapping, focusing specifically on my recent work on a large-scale reverberation mapping project using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.   

10:50 am Refreshments

11:00 am Seminar

Building 8, Room 241