Priya Natarajan, Ph.D.Professor, Departments of Astronomy and Physics;
Director, The Franke Program in Science & the Humanities; Chair, Division of Astrophysics, American Physical Society, Yale University
Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
Black holes appear to be ubiquitous throughout the universe. Most, if not all, galaxies appear to host a supermassive black hole at their core. However, the origin of the very first black holes, known as seed black holes, remains uncertain. Observations reveal that bright quasars powered by accreting black holes existed back when the universe was young. The existence of these objects so early in the universe’s history necessitates rapid growth from initial seed black holes.
In this lecture, Priyamvada Natarajan will present her work on a new origin for massive black hole seeds in the early universe. These direct collapse black holes formed in pristine pre-galactic gas disks. She will present the mounting evidence from multi-wavelength data supporting this picture as well as the prospects for further testing this model with data from future space missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope, WFIRST, eROSITA and the Euclid spacecraft.