Frontiers of Physics

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 609–629

Active galactic nuclei — the physics of individual sources and the cosmic history of formation and evolution

Review article Frontiers of Physics

DOI: 10.1007/s11467-013-0310-3

Cite this article as:
Krawczynski, H. & Treister, E. Front. Phys. (2013) 8: 609. doi:10.1007/s11467-013-0310-3


In this paper we give a brief review of the astrophysics of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). After a general introduction motivating the study of AGNs, we discuss our present understanding of the inner workings of the central engines, most likely accreting black holes with masses between 106 and 1010M. We highlight recent results concerning the jets (collimated outflows) of AGNs derived from X-ray observations (Chandra) of kpc-scale jets and γ-ray observations of AGNs (Fermi, Cherenkov telescopes) with jets closely aligned with the lines of sight (blazars), and discuss the interpretation of these observations. Subsequently, we summarize our knowledge about the cosmic history of AGN formation and evolution. We conclude with a description of upcoming observational opportunities.


active galactic nuclei (AGNs) black hole accretion relativistic jets cosmological evolution 

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physics DepartmentWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de AstronomíaUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile