Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Colloquium

Monday, October 23, 2023 at 12:15-1:15PM

JILA Auditorium

Julie Comerford, University of Colorado at Boulder

"Cosmic Mashups: From Galaxies to Black Holes"


From the galaxy mergers that trigger new star formation and black hole growth, to the black hole mergers that produce gravitational waves, mergers are fundamental drivers of the evolution of our Universe. The first pulsar timing array observations of gravitational waves, which were announced earlier this year, offer a new opportunity to crack open the mysteries of how galaxy mergers lead to supermassive black hole mergers. In this talk, I will discuss how new approaches to active galactic nucleus identification, improved galaxy merger classifications, and careful black hole mass measurements – when combined with pulsar timing array observations – reveal not only how black holes grow, but also the physics of how they combine. I will conclude with a look towards a future gravitational wave observatory that will offer the first glimpses into how these black holes form in the early Universe.


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