“The Population of Infant Black Holes in the Early Universe Revealed by JWST” with Roberto Maiolino (Cambridge University, UK)

The James Webb Space Telescope is revolutionising most areas of astrophysics. One of the most exciting and puzzling findings has been the discovery of a large population of massive black holes within the first billion years after the Big Bang. Their properties, and in particular their large masses, are difficult to reconcile with the standard black hole formation scenarios, and have required the development of new models, which are being tested against the additional constraints that are being provided by JWST.
JWST has also revealed that the interplay between these early black holes with their host galaxies was probably quite different than what observed at later cosmic epochs, with important implications for the early formation of galaxies and their stellar populations. JWST is also finding an intriguing, large population of dual black holes, which might be in the process of merging, indicating that this might be an additional route for their early growth and also an early source of gravitational waves. The webinar gives an overview of these various findings, highlighting the impressive progress made so far and also the exciting new questions that have been opened, as well as the prospects of tackling them in the coming years.

Roberto Maiolino is Professor of Experimental Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, Honorary Professor at University College London and Fellow of the Royal Society. From 2016 to 2021 he was Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, Cambridge.​He investigates the formation, evolution and transformation of galaxies and black holes across the cosmic epochs, primarily by using data collected through some of the largest telescopes. He has been playing a leading role in various large international projects, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, the next generation spectrograph for the Very Large Telescope (MOONS), and the high resolution spectrograph for the Extremely Large Telescope (ANDES).

Webinar recorded on March 21, 2024