Spring 2004:  Physics 290H and Astronomy 292

The Formation and Evolution of Massive Black Holes

Instructors:  Reinhard Genzel & Eliot Quataert
Time/Location:  Tue 4-5:30 PM 501 Campbell Hall

The mechanism(s) by which massive black holes (BHs) form at the centers of galaxies is poorly understood. There are good reasons to think, however, that the formation of black holes is intimately tied to the formation of the host galaxy in which the black hole resides.  Understanding this process is one of the outstanding problems in the theory of structure formation in the universe.  In this graduate-level seminar we will address this important problem, hopefully generating some new ideas along the way.  The course will consider (1) the observational constraints on BHs in the local universe and at high redshift, (2) mechanisms for the formation of BHs, (3) their growth via accretion and mergers to give rise to the observed population of BHs, and (4) the coevolution of BHs and galaxies.

The course will center on discussions of journal articles. Each participant will be required to give a ~ 45 min presentation.  To encourage collaboration, presentations can be given by groups/pairs. The presentations will be organized by topic and will require reading several articles.  For those taking the course for credit, your grade will be determined by your participation and presentation.  Auditors (including students, postdocs, and faculty) are encouraged.

Here is a reading list for the course.  The emphasis is on recent work.  This list is not exhaustive, nor will we cover everything on it, but it should provide a useful introduction to the literature. The specific topics for each week, the presenter(s), and the associated readings, are given below.  For each week there will be one or two articles (listed below) that we ask all participants to look at.  The presenters may need to read several articles in addition to the primary reading; she/he should discuss with us what readings to focus on.

Here is a review article by Haiman & Quataert that briefly discusses many of the topics we will address in this course.  We encourage you to read it early in the course to get an overview of the material.  The Carnegie Astrophysics Series:  Coevolution of Black Holes and Galaxies also has many useful reviews.