Dissecting the host galaxies of active galactic nuclei at high angular resolution


The work presented here is concerned with issues related to the interplay of galaxy structure and the accretion phenomenon onto supermassive black holes (SMBH), i.e. active galactic nuclei (AGN). There is statistical evidence for a coevolution of SMBHs and the galaxy bulges they reside in. The detailed knowledge of the involved physical processes, however, is still far from being satisfactory. In order to test and improve theoretical models of how this coevolution is arising, high angular resolution observations of the host galaxies of AGN are necessary. Imaging and spectroscopy of the innermost region of galaxies have the power to reveal information on the structure, the chemical composition, and the dynamics of stars and gas in the presence of an SMBH, and allow us to separate energetic signatures related either to star formation or to the accretion onto the SMBH. Considering such observations over cosmological distances (redshifts) -- i.e. looking into the past because of the finite light-travel time -- we are also able to assess evolutionary effects on the beforementioned properties ...
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