Building the Black Hole in Our Own Backyard

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Supermassive black holes are a natural part of nearly every galaxy, but how these black holes form, grow, and interact within the galactic center is still a mystery. In theory, gas rich major galaxy mergers can easily generate the fuel needed for a low mass black hole 'seed' to grow quickly and efficiently into a supermassive one. This major merger paradigm has become an accepted way to form the billion solar mass black holes that power bright quasars in the early universe. It's not clear how well this paradigm works for growing the million solar mass black holes, which tend to lie in galaxies like our own Milky Way. This talk covers efforts to refine theories of black hole growth for this lightest supermassive class.

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Kelly Holley - Bockelmann is an Associate Professor of Astronomy at Vanderbilt University. She received her B.S. in Physics at Montana State and her PhD in Astronomy at the University of Michigan. After postdocs at Case Western Reserve and the University of Massachusetts, she moved to the Center for Gravitational Wave Physics at Penn State. Her main interests are in computational galaxy dynamics, black holes of all sorts, and gravitational waves. She has received an NSF CAREER grant, along with research support from NASA.