Black hole accretion and cosmic evolution: the case of our Galaxy's own Sgr A*
Tuesday 10 June 2014
to 14:15 at
Sera Markoff (University of Amsterdam)
Sgr A* is the weakest accreting black hole we have ever observed, yet it is not a particularly unique object. We know that the majority of galaxies harbor nuclear black holes more like Sgr A* than bright active galactic nuclei (AGN), so our Galactic center represents a dominant stage in the "typical" life cycle of a spiral galaxy. I will discuss our current understanding of accretion around Sgr A*, the only source so far where we can directly image near-event horizon scales, and where semi-analytical models agree with sophisticated general relativistic magnetohydrodynamical simulations. These results provide a baseline for new progress on several major questions regarding the launching of relativistic jets, the acceleration of particles within these jets, spin and strong gravity effects. I will present some recent examples of how Sgr A* is elucidating key physics relevant for black holes of all mass scales, and how we are beginning to understand its relation to more typical sources.