CfA Colloquium: March 20, 2003

Speaker: Bradley Peterson (Ohio State U.)

Title: Measuring AGN Black Hole Masses by Reverberation Mapping

Abstract: Reverberation mapping is a technique that utilizies the intrinsic variability of active galactic nuclei to determine the structure and kinematics of the gas that produces the prominent broad emission lines that dominate the UV/optical spectra of these sources. First-generation reverberation experiments have yielded measurements of the size of the line-emitting regions in more than three-dozen AGNs. Remarkably, this has also enabled fairly robust measurement of the masses of the supermassive black holes in these galaxies. Progress in measuring AGN black hole masses will be described. Despite these successes, the full power of reverberation mapping has not yet been fully implemented: with the proper realizable combination of time resolution, program duration, spectral resolution, signal-to-noise ratio per datum, complete velocity/time-delay maps of the broad emission-line region can be attained. How this can be achieved will be outlined.