We can't typically see black holes, but this month we will be discussing the exciting events that light them up.
At the center of most galaxies lies a supermassive black hole (SMBH), larger than our entire solar system and millions of times more massive than our Sun. Despite the considerable influence they have on their host galaxies, most SMBHs are very difficult to detect because they are hidden inside dense, bright clusters of stars. Occasionally, gas or even stars are pulled in by the black hole's gravity, fueling the black hole's growth. These 'accretion' events also produce bright flares of light that illuminate the black hole. Brenna Mockler (UCSC) and Sierra Dodd (UCSC) will discuss two of the most exciting types of accretion events: tidal disruption events and changing-look quasars.
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