Centro de Astrofisica de Valparaiso y Departamento de Fisica y Astronomia Universidad de Valparaiso, Chile
The Physics of Active Galactic Nuclei and the Growth of Supermassive Black Holes
It is now recognized that probably every massive galaxy has a supermassive black hole in its center. These black holes have masses up to 10 billion times the mass of the sun. While these black holes are growing they release prodigious amounts of energy as active galactic nuclei. The most powerful of these are the most luminous compact objects in the universe and can be studied back to the earliest times of galaxy formation. The nature of active galactic nuclei has been a long-standing mystery. In this talk I describe the new picture we are forming of what an active galactic nucleus is like, how it works, and the physical processes involved.