The Formation and Evolution of Massive Black Holes

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Science  03 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6094, pp. 544-547
DOI: 10.1126/science.1220843

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The past 10 years have witnessed a change of perspective in the way astrophysicists think about massive black holes (MBHs), which are now considered to have a major role in the evolution of galaxies. This appreciation was driven by the realization that black holes of millions of solar masses and above reside in the center of most galaxies, including the Milky Way. MBHs also powered active galactic nuclei known to exist just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. Here, I summarize the current ideas on the evolution of MBHs through cosmic history, from their formation about 13 billion years ago to their growth within their host galaxies.

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