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Advances in Astronomy
Volume 2012, Article ID 516193, 21 pages
Review Article

The Cosmic History of Black Hole Growth from Deep Multiwavelength Surveys

1Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción 4070386, Chile
2Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
3Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (YCAA), P.O. Box 208121, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
4Department of Physics, Yale University, P.O. Box 208121, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
5Department of Astronomy, Yale University, P.O. Box 208101, New Haven, CT 06520, USA

Received 21 September 2011; Accepted 30 November 2011

Academic Editor: Francesca Civano

Copyright © 2012 Ezequiel Treister and C. Megan Urry. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Significant progress has been made in the last few years on understanding how supermassive black holes form and grow. In this paper, we begin by reviewing the spectral signatures of active galactic nuclei (AGN) ranging from radio to hard X-ray wavelengths. We then describe the most commonly used methods to find these sources, including optical/UV, radio, infrared, and X-ray emission, and optical emission lines. We then describe the main observational properties of the obscured and unobscured AGN population. Finally, we summarize the cosmic history of black hole accretion, that is, when in the history of the universe supermassive black holes were getting most of their mass. We finish with a summary of open questions and a description of planned and future observatories that are going to help answer them.