The goal of this project is to improve the accuracy and reliability of black hole mass measurements in Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs) as a means to better understand the evolution of matter in the universe. Supermassive black holes are nearly ubiquitous in the center of both local and distant massive galaxies and play a fundamental role in the past, present, and future states of our universe. We measure black hole masses directly with a technique called reverberation mapping. The program I propose here will use a newly applicable and state-of-the-art extension of this technique – constructing velocity-delay maps – to increase the accuracy of current mass measurements and their use in calibrating black hole mass scaling relationships. I will also investigate new reverberation mapping methods using photometric observations. These new methods will measure black hole masses in distant galaxies that cannot be probed in any other way. The expertise to use this method and directly measure black hole masses in AGNs is limited to a very small number of individuals around the world, most of which live and work in the USA. The program I propose here will transfer this knowledge to researchers with permanent positions at Dark Cosmology Centre (DARK) at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. In fact, a new idea for the application of these methods to measure distances and constrain cosmological parameters was recently submitted for publication by myself and collaborators at DARK. Perfecting the application of this new idea of AGNs as distance indicators is another aspect of this proposal, which could have profound implications for our understanding of the evolution of the universe. In this context, transferring my knowledge of reverberation mapping to more research groups outside of the US who have access to more observing facilities is vital for advancing this currently small research field that has the potential to enact real innovation in cosmology research on large scales.
Fields of science
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