The Future of Direct Supermassive Black Hole Mass Measurements
Dan Batcheldor (Rochester Institute of Technology)
The existence of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the centers of galactic bulges has now been supposed for many decades. However, there are only a few cases in which the masses of the SMBHs have been directly measured with such accuracy as to categorically rule out all other possibilities. Due to the observed correlations between SMBH mass estimates and the more general bulge properties, generating a sample of reliable SMBH masses is critical for not only understanding their formation and evolution, but also the formation and evolution of galaxies themselves. We will review the status, and limitations, of SMBH mass estimates made to date, before discussing the observations required to make reliable SMBH mass measurements using current techniques. Finally, we will assess the ability of future missions to deliver the data necessary to constrain some of the most fundamental questions remaining in contemporary astrophysics.