Department of Astronomy & Physics

New Blackhole Flare Observations Support Lamppost Model

Blackhole flare

In this artist impression, the blackhole, the accretion disk, and the purple corona are shown. In sequence, the corona creates, along a jet, a flare of X-rays. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Post-doctoral Fellow Dan Wilkins, working with Professor Luigi Gallo, from the Department of Astronomy and Physics at Saint Mary's University, interpreted X-ray observations obtained from NASA's Swift and Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescopic Array as evidence for the Lamppost Model that describes the topology of material around a blackhole that illuminates the black hole's accreation disk. The data suggest that the corona "surrounding" the blackhole first shrunk around the blackhole and then, through some mechanism that is not understood at this time, shot away material from the blackhole in a  pulse-like beam. The base of the beam/jet then appeared to collapse again around the blackhole. Their analysis of the observed flare links, for the first time, the behaviour and configuration of the corona and the jet.

Their results, [authored by, D.R. Wilkins, L. C. Gallo, D. Grupe (Space Science Center, Kentucky) , K. Bonson (Astronomy Ph.D. student, SMU), S. Komossa (Max-Planck-Institut fur Radioastronomie, Bonn), and A.C. Fabian (Cambridge)] will appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (arXiv e-print). Click here to link to NASA's website where this important discovery is described in detail.

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