Colloquium: Dr. Scott Barrows, University of Colorado
ABSTRACT: Galaxy mergers can efficiently power active galactic nuclei (AGN) and trigger star-formation (SF), thereby growing supermassive black holes (SMBHs) while also evolving the stellar populations of their host galaxies. This pathway for co-evolution of galaxies and SMBHs is likely to be important at high SMBH masses and high AGN luminosities. However, direct correlations between SF and AGN enhancements in samples of individual galaxy mergers have been observationally tenuous, suggesting that SF and AGN may respond to galaxy mergers on different time scales. To test this prediction, we use a multi-wavelength set of photometry from X-ray to IR wavelengths to identify AGN in unambiguous late-stage galaxy mergers. This systematic approach has the power to quantify merger stages down to nuclear separations of less than 1 kpc, while also measuring the level of AGN power and on-going SF. I will discuss the insight provided by this unique dataset on the mutual evolution of stellar populations and SMBHs in late-stage galaxy mergers.