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Black hole growth fuelled by counter-rotating gas

Project description

Uncovering the mechanism that fuels the growth of active galactic nuclei

Active galactic nuclei are amongst the most spectacular astrophysical events in the sky. They are small regions at the galaxy centres that emit prodigious amounts of energy and are powered by gas accretion onto the black holes that usually harbour the centres of supermassive galaxies. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the CR-GAS project plans to uncover the physical conditions in the host galaxy that trigger or halt this black hole feeding process. Researchers will study counter-rotating structures in galaxies to determine the gas transport mechanism and investigate whether counter-rotation itself promotes gas flow onto the black hole.


Supermassive black holes are ubiquitous in the centres of galaxies. They remain largely invisible to our probes, except during their active phases (AGN), when gas is accreted onto the black hole. The energy output of AGN is thought to be able to regulate the growth of galaxies and supermassive black holes. However, we still do not understand how gas is transported to fuel the AGN. One of the outstanding challenges in galaxy evolution is to uncover what physical conditions in the host galaxy trigger or halt the black hole feeding process. In this Global Fellowship project I will make significant advances to solve the problem of AGN fuelling with an innovative approach. I propose to use counter-rotating structures in galaxies to determine: 1) how gas is transported, and 2) if counter-rotation itself promotes the flow of gas to the black hole. Counter-rotation is an unambiguous dynamical tracer that will allow me to unveil for the first time the path of gas from the large scale of the galaxy to the central black hole, thereby determining what physical mechanisms transport gas. I will carry out the project at two world renowned institutions: the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Copenhagen. During the fellowship I will acquire broad skills on photometry analysis and comparison samples to combine with my current expertise on state-of-the-art data analysis and dynamical models to reach the science goals of the project. I will receive additional training on proposal and grant application writing to enhance my career opportunities at the end of the fellowship. On the incoming phase I will bring my acquired expertise and access to a network of international collaborators to Europe, which is important for European institutes to maximise their returns from cutting-edge facilities and instruments with focus on black holes, such as the Event Horizon Telescope and GRAVITY.



Net EU contribution
€ 268 921,92
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 268 921,92

Partners (1)