Illuminating the Surrounding of Black Holes
Talk by Dr. Anne Lohfink (Physics Department, MSU)
3/28/2019 Wilson Hall 1-144 3:10-4:00pm
Accreting supermassive black holes, or active galactic nuclei (AGN), are among the most energetic sources of radiation in the Universe. In some cases, they produce more light than all of the stars in their host galaxy combined. Over the course of cosmic history, this radiation has played a key role in the formation of galaxies, affecting the chemical and dynamical properties of massive galaxies and clusters, as well as regulating their growth. Without it, today's Universe would look entirely different. In my talk I will discuss how we can use this immense amount of radiation as a probe of the properties of the black hole itself, the extreme conditions in its immediate environment and the physical processes that take place there. I will present some of my recent work about the conditions in the black hole's ‘corona’ - region of highly energetic particles with a radiative energy density a million times that of its Solar analog. I will show how the X-rays produced in this region are of fundamental importance to understanding the interplay of radiation near the black hole.