Accretion Signatures of the Earliest Black Holes in the Universe

| Scientific Rationale | Important Dates | Registration | SOC | Participants | ProgramVenue | Travel | Contact |

Scientific Rationale
One of the major outstanding issues in modern astrophysics is how initial black hole seeds in the early universe came to be formed, and consequently, how they grew into the typical present-day massive black holes that now reside at galaxy centers. 

Our current intuition on the birth and early evolution of massive black holes is set by two extreme regimes: (1) from the intensely rapid growth of billion solar mass black holes that were active only a gigayear after the Big Bang, or (2) from accretion measurements of the smallest nuclear black holes found in the most nearby dwarf galaxies. But even the applicability of both these sets of black holes to infer the properties of those growing at Cosmic dawn is still highly debated within the astronomical community.


black hole seeding

This 3-day workshop aims to bring together theoreticians, observers and computational astrophysicists to discuss our current understanding and interpretation of accretion mechanisms for 1,000--1,000,000 solar mass black holes, their expected properties at the dawn of the Universe, and the connections between black hole seeds and the low-mass black holes residing in present-day dwarf galaxies and globular clusters. Such a conversation is particularly pertinent as the direct observable signatures of the first growing black hole seeds will finally be at our fingertips with the imminent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2021, with additional foresight of relevant future missions such as the Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, the next generation VLA, and the Lynx X-ray Surveyor.

During the meeting we expect to address the following topics:

  •  What are the radiative signatures of accretion for intermediate black holes and black holes seeds?
  •  Do the dynamics and environments impact the growth of intermediate black holes and black holes seeds?
  •  What are the physical processes and properties relating to variability in low mass black holes?
  •  What are the predictions and potential observations that can be made of black hole seeds at Cosmic dawn?

The workshop is part of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Sciences (PCTS) 2019 Workshop Program Series, and is being held in conjunction with PCTS and the Princeton Gravity Initiative, which is a collaborative effort between Princeton's Departments of Astrophysics, Physics and Mathematics. 

Important Dates

  • December 1, 2018 -- First Announcement
  • March 15, 2019 -- Registration Deadline
  • April 3-5, 2019 -- Meeting

The workshop is limited to 70 participants, and attendance will be on a first-come first-served basis. There will also be no registration fee to attend the meeting.  Please register for the meeting at this: link 

Scientific Organizing Committee
Andy Goulding (Princeton, Chair)
Jenny Greene (Princeton, co-Chair)
James Stone (Princeton)
Shane Davis (Virginia)
Frans Pretorius (Princeton, Gravity Initiative Chair)
Amy Reines (Montana)
Rachel Somerville (Rutgers; Flatiron Institute)

Confirmed Participants
Yusra AlSayyad (Princeton); Daniel Angles-Alcazar (Flatiron Institute); Neta Bahcall (Princeton); Vivienne Baldassare (Yale); Carmine Barbato (Rutgers); Aaron Barth (UC Irvine); Jillian Bellovary (AMNH); Laura Blecha (Florida); Alyson Brooks (Rutgers); Miriam Cabero Muller (Princeton); Neven Caplar (Princeton); Nico Cappelluti (Miami); Renyue Cen (Princeton); Jane Dai (Niels Bohr Institute); Bishambar Dayal (Rutgers); Claire Dickey (Yale); Chris Done (Durham); Chuanfei Dong (Princeton); Fani Dosopoulou (PCTS); Will Farr (Stony Brook); Elena Gallo (Michigan); Suvi Gezari (Maryland); Melanie Habouzit (Flatiron Institute); Zoltan Haiman (Columbia); Kevin Hainline (Steward); Goni Halevi (Princeton); Ryan Hickox (Dartmouth); Kelly Holley-Bockelmann (Vanderbilt); Yan-Fei Jiang (UCSB); Jarrett Johnson (Los Alamos Labs); Christina Kreisch (Princeton); Mihir Kulkarni (Columbia); Jia Liu (Princeton); Chiara Mingarelli (Flatiron Institute); Bhawna Motwani (Flatiron Institute); Priya Natarajan (Yale); Nadine Neumayer (MPIA); Dieu Nguyen (NAOJ); Ken Ohsuga (Tsukuba); Jerry Ostriker (Princeton/Columbia); Kris Pardo (Princeton); Patryk Pjanka (Princeton); Almudena Prieto (Astrophysical Institute of the Canaries); Daniel Proga (UNLV); Eliot Quataert (Berkeley); Sophie Reed (Princeton); Angelo Ricarte (Yale); Johan Samsing (Princeton); Amy Secunda (Princeton); Ray Sharma (Rutgers); Yue Shen (Illinois); Eva Silverstein (Stanford); Anatoly Spitkovsky (Princeton); Navin Sridhar (Columbia); Michael Strauss (Princeton); Scott Tremaine (IAS); Marta Volonteri (IAP); Natalie Webb (IRAP-Toulouse); Joan Wrobel (NRAO); Nieng Yan (Princeton)

Workshop Program
Talks are 20 minutes + 10 minutes of discussion

Wednesday 4/3 Session 1: Accretion in low-mass black holes  
8:30-9:00 Check-in and light breakfast at PCTS  
8:50-9:00 Welcome and Introductions Andy Goulding (Princeton)
Review of low-mass black holes
Numerical Simulations of super Eddington accretion flows & outflows
The first quasars in the early Universe
Jenny Greene (Princeton)
Ken Ohsuga (Tsukuba)
Chris Done (Durham)
10:30-10:50 Coffee break  
Mass accretion & outflow mechanisms in black hole systems
Searching for the seeds of supermassive black holes
Intermediate mass black holes in extragalactic globular clusters
Active massive black holes in nearby dwarf galaxies
Daniel Proga (UNLV)
Natalie Webb (IRAP-Toulouse)
Joan Wrobel (NRAO)
Amy Reines (Montana)
12:50-1:50 Lunch at PCTS  
Mimicking Monsters: hunting for AGN in dwarf galaxies in the infrared
Session Discussion Panel
Kevin Hainline (Steward Obs)
Andy Goulding; Amy Reines;
Shane Davis
  Session 2: Dynamics of low-mass black holes  
Dynamical searches for central black holes in low mass galaxies
Black hole mass measurements with molecular gas
Nadine Neuymayer (MPIA)
Aaron Barth (UC Irvine)
3:50-4:10 Coffee Break  
The central parsec of the nearest AGN: challenges to the torus
Black hole fueling in cosmological simulations
Almudena Prieto (AIoCanaries)
Daniel Angles-Alcazar (Flatiron)
Thursday 4/4 Session 2 continued: Dynamics of low-mass black holes  
8:30-9:00 Light Breakfast at PCTS  
Simulating black hole growth and spin evolution in merging galaxies
Predictions of multi-messenger signatures of massive BHs in dwarf galaxies
Observational imprint of seed black hole dynamics
Laura Blecha (Florida)
Jillian Bellovary (AMNH)
Kelly Holley-Bockelmann
10:30-10:50 Coffee break  
10:50-11:20 Session Discussion Panel Will Farr, Chiara Mingarelli,
Dieu Nguyen, Johan Samsing
  Session 3: Variability in low-mass black holes  
Thermal stability in radiation hydrodynamic simulations of BH accretion
Extreme variability of AGN accretion disks driven by opacity
Optical spectroscopic and photometric signatures of black holes in dwarf galaxies
Shane Davis (Virginia)
Yan-Fei Jiang (UCSB)
Vivienne Baldassare (Yale)
12:50-1:50 Lunch at PCTS  
A unified picture of tidal disruption events from super-Eddington accretion
Probing Low-Mass Central Black Holes with Tidal Disruption Events
Session Discussion Panel
Jane Dai (Niels Bohr Inst.)
Suvi Gezari (Maryland)
Neven Caplar, Chris Done,
Jim Stone
3:20-3:50 Coffee Break  
4:00-5:00 Physics Colloquium, Jadwin Hall Room A-10
Massive Black Hole Binaries in the Cosmos
Marta Volonteri (IAP)
5:00-7:30 Meeting Reception at PCTS  
Friday 4/5 Session 4: The seeds of massive black holes  
8:30-9:00 Light Breakfast at PCTS  
Diagnosing formation channels of the first massive black holes
Formation mechanisms of black hole seeds in the early universe
Non-Gaussian tails in quantum field theory and primordial black holes
Zoltan Haiman (Columbia)
Jarrett Johnson (Los Alamos)
Eva Silverstein (Stanford)
10:40-11:00 Coffee break  
How to ‘see’ early black holes: short and long-term vision
Demography and physical properties of high redshift quasars
The good, the bad, and the ugly: piecing together models and constraints
Nico Cappelluti (Miami)
Yue Shen (Illinois)
Marta Volonteri (IAP)
12:30-1:30 Lunch at PCTS  

Formation of supermassive BHs in cosmological simulations
Measurement of the local BH occupation fraction in low mass galaxies
Seeds Discussion Panel I

Seeds Discussion Panel II
Melanie Habouzit (Flatiron)
Elena Gallo (Michigan)
Jeremiah Ostriker, Frans Pretorius,
Rachel Somerville, James Stone,
Marta Volonteri
Kevin Hainline, Ryan Hickox, Priya
Natarajan, Michael Strauss
3:30-3:40 Conclusion  

Meeting Venue
The meeting will take place in the Princeton Center for Theoretical Sciences, Jadwin Hall, Princeton, which is a short 10-15 minute walk from the Nassau Inn Hotel in Palmer Square, Princeton. Click here to see map.

Directions to Nassau Hall


Travel Information
For information on the Princeton campus, and travel to the Princeton area please see
For those participants who will be flying to the New Jersey / New York area, we highly recommend Newark International as there is a direct train that runs between the airport and Princeton Junction, which will greatly reduce your travel time.

Contact Information
For questions and more information about this upcoming meeting, please contact goulding "[at]" astro[dot]princeton[dot]edu.