The Physics of AGN-driven Galactic Winds

May 10, 2018
Phillips Auditorium
Northwestern University

Over the past decade, observations have revealed AGN feedback in action in the form of energetic, wide-angle, galaxy-scale outflows powered by luminous quasars. These outflows are observed at essentially all wavelengths, ranging from the radio to the optical to X-rays, and have raised a number of important theoretical puzzles. For example, the outflows can carry a momentum over an order of magnitude in excess of the AGN radiative output, and a large fraction of the outflowing mass is observed in cold, dense molecular gas moving at highly supersonic velocities up to ~1,000 km/s. In this talk, I will present analytic and numerical models aiming to explain the acceleration and observational properties of AGN-driven galactic winds. I will emphasize recent results on the origin of molecular outflows, including predictions for infrared emission by warm molecular gas that will be testable by the James Webb Space Telescope. I will also summarize on-going efforts to model the effects of AGN winds in galaxy evolution.

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