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Growing supermassive black holes with a little help from their friends

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There has been a lack of understanding what physical mechanisms are responsible for the mass build-up of supermassive black holes with cosmic time. The challenge lies with determining whether local influences (in the vicinity of the black hole and unresolved with current observational facilities) are directly related to larger scale factors (external to the host galaxy) such as galaxy mergers or a process related to the characteristics of their dark matter halo. Deep multi-wavelength surveys with large spectroscopic efforts, such as COSMOS , now enable us to construct statistical galaxy and AGN samples up to z ~ 1 with environmental information to disentangle various factors relevant for triggering accretion. We will demonstrate that a scale-dependent modulation of black hole growth is in effect with mergers playing a non-negligible role. Our results are likely indicative of the underlying role of the gas reservoir for fuelling AGN activity and concurrent star formation in a global sense.

This talk is part of the Cavendish Astrophysics Seminars series.

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