, Volume 116, Issue 3-4, pp 523-624

Supermassive Black Holes in Galactic Nuclei: Past, Present and Future Research

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Abstract

This review discusses the current status of supermassive black hole research, as seen from a purely observational standpoint. Since the early ‘90s, rapid technological advances, most notably the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, the commissioning of the VLBA and improvements in near-infrared speckle imaging techniques, have not only given us incontrovertible proof of the existence of supermassive black holes, but have unveiled fundamental connections between the mass of the central singularity and the global properties of the host galaxy. It is thanks to these observations that we are now, for the first time, in a position to understand the origin, evolution and cosmic relevance of these fascinating objects.