The coevolution of galaxies and their central black holes (BH) has been the central
theme of much of recent extragalactic astronomical research. Observations of the
dynamics of stars and gas in the nuclear regions of nearby galaxies suggest that the
overwhelming majority of spheroidal galaxies in the local Universe contain massive BHs
and that, with some important caveats, the masses of those BHs correlate with the
velocity dispersions of the stars in the spheroid and the bulge luminosities. It has been
suggested that mergers may play a significant role in establishing this correlation for
accreting super massive BH (SMBH) found in the mid-infrared (MIR).
Observations of nearby luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs) suggest that gas rich mergers are responsible for some AGN and that the hosts of some obscured AGN are mergers. It also appears that the evolution of obscured MIR selected AGN differs from that of un- obscured AGN. A fruitful method to study the significance of mergers in growing SMBH and the impact of AGN on their host galaxy is to measure the “strength of the AGN” (e.g. its contribution to the bolometric luminosity, or the mass of outflows associated with AGN) in mergers and measure their host properties (e.g. the state of the molecular gas, star formation rate, star formation histories).
In this talk, I will first present estimates of the interstellar medium properties in two samples of obscured and un-obscured, optically, luminous, quasars, then discuss the implications of this study in our knowledge about AGN and their hosts. I will also present results based on near-IR and submillimetric spectra to assess the impact of AGN on the star-formation properties of their hosts and on the molecular gas in LIRGs. Finally I will discuss exciting prospects with CFHT and other Maunakea facilities for (1) a unique simultaneous study of the morphology, the stellar masses, and kinematics of LIRGs, and (2) a follow up in the optical and IR of large samples of MIR selected AGN and their environments.
Throughout my talk, I will also highlight two critical points: (1) How my research interests enabled me to involve students in science projects, teach and share findings with the public, (2) how I acquired the multi wavelength expertise required to study galaxies and their central BH during my PhD and my postdoctoral experience, experience which has also benefited my observatories support work.