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An overview of active galaxies

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Active galaxies provide a prime example of high energy processes operating in the Universe. This free course gives an overview of active galaxies, including the supermassive black holes that power the engines at their centres, and the emission processes by which we detect and study them. It also gives practice in mathematical techniques for analysing data and theoretical models.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • recognise the terminology which is used to describe the properties and behaviour of active galactic nuclei (AGN)
  • manipulate numbers, algebraic symbols and mathematical functions in equations.

By: The Open University

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An overview of active galaxies


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This course begins by studying evidence leading to our basic hypothesis that active galactic nuclei (AGN) are accreting, supermassive black holes. It also covers some physics of radiation which you will need to be able to interpret the observed emission of AGN, and includes an examination of AGN.

You will be studying a young subject and there are fundamental issues which are still being vigorously debated by the experts and are subject to current research activity. Consequently, it is not possible to give clear definitive explanations of all aspects of the subject.

You may already have become accustomed to reading unfamiliar words and phrases. In this course, you will not only encounter new and specialised vocabulary, you will meet ideas which are currently being shaped and tested. Do not be dismayed if you fail to immediately grasp the underlying principles behind some of the material you will read: it is possible no-one has yet elucidated them!

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in Science [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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