SPACS Colloquium: “The Search for Supermassive Black Hole Pairs (And Their Progeny)”

March 28, 2013 3pm
Art and Design Building Room 2003

Laura Blecha
University of Maryland

Abstract: Recent advances in both theory and observations have transformed the search for supermassive black holes (SMBHs) in merging galaxies into an active field of study. Hundreds of candidate active galactic nucleus (AGN) pairs with kpc-scale separation have been found, allowing studies of their properties as a statistical population for the first time. I will review the current status of observational efforts to identify and confirm these dual AGN. On the theoretical side, I will describe how results from hydrodynamic simulations allow us to better understand and characterize the signatures of dual AGN, focusing on the association between SMBH pairs and double-peaked narrow emission lines. Finally, I will briefly discuss the possible signatures of recently-merged SMBHs that have experienced a gravitational-wave recoil kick. In particular, one unusual galaxy shows signatures of either an AGN pair or a recoiling AGN, highlighting the inherent complexity in confirming either type of candidate. Recent observations and modeling can place interesting constraints on the nature of this system.