The Hunt for Binary Supermassive Black Holes

10/09/2020 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s): 
Xin Liu (UIUC)
Type of Event (for grouping events):

The Hunt for Binary Supermassive Black Holes

When galaxies frequently merge in our hierarchical universe, their central black holes (BHs) pair and form binary supermassive BHs. The merger of binary BHs provides a means of growth; the abundance on sub-galactic scales may be used to constrain the nature of dark matter particles; the final coalescence should make the loudest sirens in the low-frequency gravitational wave sky. Despite significant merits, however, direct observational evidence for binary supermassive BHs has remained elusive to date. The primary hurdle to detecting binary supermassive BHs on sub-galactic scales is spatial resolution. I will talk about our efforts using temporal information to break the angular resolution limit, analogous to detecting stellar binaries and exoplanets. Our pilot work has discovered many promising candidates, and the time is ripe for capitalizing on the unprecedented sensitivity, volume, and time baseline offered by ongoing and upcoming large photometric and spectroscopic time-domain surveys to break this subject open.


Host: Su

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