Invitation to a Midsummer Night's
My intention in this talk is to share a story in which I was very fortunate to participate almost since the beginning, but which is often ignored by the young generation of astronomers. It is the story of the discovery of Massive Black Holes (MBHs). Since everybody in this assembly knows well the subject in its present stage of development, I thought indeed that it could be interesting to show how the ideas that people take for granted presently had such difficulties to emerge and to gain credence. I think that this subject allows, better than any others, to observe that research is not “a long quiet river”, and on the contrary evolves in a non-linear and erratic way, full of mistakes and of dead ends, and that it gives rise to passionate controversies. We will see that the story of MBHs is made of fruitless researches opening on unexpected discoveries, come-backs of visionary models which were first neglected, temporary very fashionable but wrong models, strong debates involving even new physical laws, misinterpretations responsible for decades of stagnation, thousands of papers and nights of the largest telescopes. But finally it opened on a coherent physical model and on a new vision of galaxy evolution. Since it is a long story, I have selected only a few fragments...
The article is not long in fact. I reproduce below its two figures as lobby cards to advertise its reading!
Pour le lecteur francophone je recommande chaudement la lecture d'un autre texte de Susy Collin-Zahn lui aussi extrêmement pédagogique et informatif sur les controverses autour des quasars et plus généralement autour du modèle cosmologique standard : La théorie du Big Bang rend bien compte des décalages observés publié sur le riche site Science... et pseudo-sciences.