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The First Galaxies in the Universe$
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Abraham Loeb and Steven R. Furlanetto

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691144917

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691144917.001.0001

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Supermassive Black Holes

Supermassive Black Holes

(p.217) Chapter Seven Supermassive Black Holes
The First Galaxies in the Universe

Abraham Loeb

Steven R. Furlanetto

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes formation mechanisms for supermassive black holes, their observable characteristics, and their interactions with their host galaxies and the wider Universe. A black hole is the end product of the complete gravitational collapse of a material object, such as a massive star. It is surrounded by a horizon from which even light cannot escape. Astrophysical black holes appear in two flavors: stellar-mass black holes that form when massive stars die, and the monstrous supermassive black holes that sit at the center of galaxies, reaching masses of up to ten billion Suns. The latter type is observed as active galactic nuclei (AGN), and the chapter introduces the quasar—a point-like (“quasi-stellar”) bright source at the center of a galaxy which serves as the most powerful type of AGN—in discussing the observable nature of supermassive black holes.

Keywords:   supermassive black holes, stellar-mass black holes, active galactic nuclei, AGN, quasars, gravitational collapse, massive stars

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