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Proceedings Paper

Echo tomography of black hole accretion disks
Author(s): Keith Horne
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Paper Abstract

We discuss technologies for micro-arcsec echo mapping of black hole accretion flows in Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). Echo mapping employs time delays, Doppler shifts, and photoionization physics to map the geometry, kinematics, and physical conditions in the reprocessing region close to a compact time-variable source of ionizing radiation. Time delay maps are derived from detailed analysis of variations in lightcurves at different wavelengths. Echo mapping is a maturing technology at a stage of development similar to that of radio inteferometry just before the VLA. The first important results are in, confirming the basic assumptions of the method, measuring the sizs of AGN emission line regions, delivering dozens of black hole masses, and showing the promise of the technique. Resolution limits with existing AGN monitoring datasets are typically approximately 5 - 10 light days. This should improve down to 1 - 2 light days in the next-generation echo mapping experiments, using facilities like Kronos and Robonet that are designed for and dedicated to sustained spectroscopic monitoring. A light day is 0.4 micro-arcsec at a redshift of 0.1, thus echo mapping probes regions 103 times smaller than with VLBI, and 105 times smaller than with HST.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 February 2003
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4854, Future EUV/UV and Visible Space Astrophysics Missions and Instrumentation, (24 February 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.460261
Show Author Affiliations
Keith Horne, Univ. of St. Andrews (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4854:
Future EUV/UV and Visible Space Astrophysics Missions and Instrumentation
J. Chris Blades; Oswald H. W. Siegmund, Editor(s)

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