Searching for Intermediate-Mass Black Holes in Dwarf Starburst Galaxies

One idea for the formation of supermassive black holes is that they grew from lower-mass "seeds" that formed in the first generation of galaxies in the early Universe. In this scenario, some such seed black holes should remain today and provide a "fossil" record of the early cosmic formation of black holes. We are studying a candidate "intermediate-mass" black hole in a nearby dwarf starburst galaxy, using X-ray observations with the Chandra, XMM-Newton, and ASCA observatories, to help determine whether this object may indeed be a leftover "seed" black hole and explore the process by which it accretes material from the surrounding medium.