Scientific Rationale


The study of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) has had long historical roots, but in recent years this subject has undergone a renaissance with the recognition that the growth of black holes and the accompanying release of accretion energy may have profound consequences for structure formation in general. Black holes and their manifestation as AGNs are now considered to be integral components of the life-cycle of galaxies. At the same time, the advent of a variety of state-of-the-art instrumentation, both on the ground and in space, has led to vast improvements in the quality and quantity of data being gathered across all wavelengths. The phenomenology of AGNs is richer than ever. Within this context, it is important to re-examine the physics of AGNs in a coherent framework. While there have been a number of related meetings in the last few years, most of these have either focused on highly specialized areas or else have been very broad, spanning all scales ranging from the very center to the outskirts of the host galaxy; many other meetings have concentrated exclusively on the theme of the coevolution of black holes and galaxies.

This meeting will focus on the classical components of the central engine of AGNs, namely the black hole, accretion disk, jet, outflow/wind, absorbers, broad-line region, torus, and narrow-line region, along with topics related to dust grains and stellar processes in galactic nuclei. Whenever possible we will attempt to address the physical properties of these components, and their associated physical processes, rather than on phenomenology alone. It is hoped that quantitative studies of the central engine will ultimately lead not only to a better understanding of the AGN phenomenon but also to deeper insights into the manner in which AGNs affect their host galaxies and their larger cosmic habitat.

The meeting will be framed by a series of invited reviews, each chosen to cover the various subtopics represented under the general theme of the conference. We envision that the invited talks, approximately 35 minutes in length, will be supplemented by shorter (20-min length) contributed talks. Ample space will be made available for poster displays.