Major Galaxy Mergers and the Growth of Supermassive Black Holes
Ezequiel Treister
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile



A clear picture is emerging in which SMBH growth episodes (luminous AGN) are directly linked to major galaxy mergers. In this scenario, the more traditional unification paradigm in which orientation is the main parameter only holds at lower luminosities, while for the more violent accretion events, triggered by major mergers, we find evidence for an evolutionary sequence in which the AGN is first heavily obscured (Compton-thick), to then reveal an unobscured quasar. In this talk, I will present observational evidence in support of this scenario, both in the local Universe and at high redshifts. In particular, I will discuss the main results from our NuSTAR AO-1 program aimed to obtain high energy observations for a sample of 12 nearby galaxies undergoing major mergers. Then, I will present the first results from our program aimed to obtain optical and near-IR Integral Field Unit (IFU) spectroscopy and ALMA maps for a sample of confirmed nearby dual AGN (separation <10 kpc). In addition to providing general properties of this population, I will focus on two remarkable systems, NGC6240 and Mrk 463. Both systems show evidence of large kpc-scale tidal features, complex gas dynamics and kinematical evidence for both inflows and outflows. These results clearly show the importance of performing high resolution multi wavelength studies covering kpc scales in order to understand the complex connection between black hole growth and galaxy evolution in this critical phase. Finally, I will present a quick summary of the observational facilities and astronomical research centers in Chile and opportunities for scientific collaborations with IfA members.