Astronomy Colloquium

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Online Event
Black Hole Mass Measurement with ALMA
Aaron Barth, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine,

Supermassive black holes are found in the centers of all massive galaxies, and the scaling relations between black hole mass and host galaxy properties provide important benchmarks for testing models of black hole-galaxy coevolution. Accurate measurements of black hole masses are essential for determining these scaling relations across the full range of galaxy properties. ALMA was long anticipated to be a powerful tool for measuring masses of black holes in galaxies containing central disks of molecular gas. During the past few years this technique has been used to obtain robust mass measurements for black holes in several early-type galaxies, and in the best cases ALMA observations have led to the highest-precision measurements of black hole mass that have been obtained for giant elliptical galaxies. I will present results from an ALMA program to observe E and S0 galaxies containing circumnuclear gas disks, describe the methods used to determine black hole masses, and discuss prospects for ALMA to improve the understanding of supermassive black hole demographics.

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