Institute of Astronomy

Using our Galactic center supermassive black hole Sgr A* as a testbed for theories of accretion

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Sera Markoff, University of Amsterdam21 May 2015Institute of Astronomy Colloquia

Abstract

Sgr A∗ is the weakest accreting black hole we have ever observed, yet it is not a particularly unique object. We know that the majority of galaxies harbor nuclear black holes more like Sgr A∗ than bright active galactic nuclei (AGN), thus our Galactic center represents a dominant stage in the life cycle of a spiral galaxy. I will discuss our current understanding of accretion around Sgr A∗, the only source so far where we can directly image near-event horizon scales, and where semi-analytical models are starting to agree with sophisticated general relativistic magnetohydrodynamical simulations. These results provide a baseline for addressing several major questions relevant to the wider impact of black holes in the universe, such as feedback in galaxies and clusters, or high energy particle acceleration. I will present some recent examples of how Sgr A∗ is elucidating key physics relevant for black holes at all mass scales.

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