Special Session SS4  5 July 2024

Lighting the dark: the fuelling cycle of supermassive black holes across cosmic time

Aims and scope

Gas inflows into supermassive black holes (SMBHs) trigger active galactic nuclei (AGN). Despite several proposed mechanisms, a comprehensive solution for angular momentum transfer out of galactic centers remains elusive. Mergers, interactions, and bars play key roles in bringing gas to the central kiloparsec, and can initiate circumnuclear starbursts. Observed gas inflows in low-luminosity AGN highlight the importance of disk processes within ~100 pc scales. Nonetheless, the main mechanisms driving gas to the central SMBH still need to be better understood.

Over the last decade, Integral Field Spectroscopy (IFS) and enhanced spatial resolution from facilities such as ALMA, MUSE, and SINFONI have revolutionized our understanding of AGN's 3D structure, uncovering the complexity of inflow and outflow kinematics and morphologies. Recent cosmological or high-resolution hydrodynamic simulations (e.g., IllustrisTNG, FIRE, EAGLE, CCA) are now able to resolve sub-galactic processes zooming in towards the SMBH, offering a great opportunity to investigate AGN fueling in unprecedented detail.

This Special Session is dedicated to bringing together the latest findings from observations and state-of-the-art simulations. The ultimate aim is to expand our understanding of how AGN are triggered, the different timescales required for AGN activity episodes and the fuelling cycle. We will also discuss the expectations for simulations and emerging observational opportunities, notably from the JWST, and future endeavors (e.g. ELTs, SKA, ATHENA).


This Special Session will be organized in three session blocks, each lasting 1.5 hours, to comprehensively address the latest observational and theoretical results and future facilities.

Invited speakers

  • Thaísa Storchi-Bergmann (UFRGS, Brazil) - Review of the latest observational results;
  • Keiichi Wada (Kagoshima University, Japan) - Summary of numerical modeling related to AGN fueling;
  • Begoña García-Lorenzo (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias - IAC, Spain) - Overview of the HARMONI integral field spectrograph for the ELT.

Scientific organisers

Anelise Audibert (IAC - Spain) - chair
Françoise Combes (Observatoire de Paris - France) - co-chair
Richard Davies (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics - Germany)
Massimo Gaspari (Princeton University - USA)
Sebastian Hönig (University of Southampton - UK)
Johan Knapen (IAC - Spain)
Sandra Raimundo (University of Southampton - UK)


Anelise Audibert (anelise.audibert @ iac.es) and Françoise Combes (francoise.combes @ obspm.fr)

Updated on Wed Jan 17 10:46:09 CET 2024