Massive Black Holes at the Heart of Galaxies
At the very center of most galaxies, including the Milky Way, lurk massive black holes, with masses from a few tens of thousands to several billions of solar masses. Some of these black holes are quiescent, like our own, some others are active and are known as quasars, which can have luminosities comparable to that of entire galaxies. How and when did these black holes form and grow to reach these gargantuan masses? Astronomer Marta Volonteri takes us on a journey spanning the whole age of the Universe, starting from the very first stars and galaxies emerging after the Big Bang.
Marta Volonteri is senior researcher at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris since 2012. Prior to this she was assistant professor and then associate professor at the University of Michigan. Volonteri is co-chair of the Astrophysics Working Group for the gravitational wave satellite LISA. Her research focuses on exploring the origin and the evolution of the massive black holes residing in the centre of galaxies in connection to the cosmic evolution of galaxies.
The Kapteyn Astronomical Institute organizes the yearly Blaauw lecture, in collaboration with Studium Generale. This is a lecture by an internationally renowned astronomer which everyone, including the general public, can attend. The Blaauw chair and Blaauw lecture were initiated in 1997 as one of six visiting professorships in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.