The First Spectroscopically Resolved Sub-Parsec Orbit of a Supermassive Binary Black Hole
Shapovalova, A. I.
Borka Jovanović, Vesna
Popovic, L. C.
MetadataShow full item record
One of the most intriguing scenarios proposed to explain how active galactic nuclei are triggered involves the existence of a supermassive binary black hole (BH) system in their cores. Here, we present an observational evidence for the first spectroscopically resolved sub-parsec orbit of a such system in the core of Seyfert galaxy NGC 4151. Using a method similar to those typically used for spectroscopic binary stars, we obtained radial velocity curves of the supermassive binary system, from which we calculated orbital elements and made estimates about the masses of the components. Our analysis shows that periodic variations in the light and radial velocity curves can be accounted for by an eccentric, sub-parsec Keplerian orbit with a 15.9 year period. The flux maximum in the light curve corresponds to the approaching phase of the secondary component toward the observer. According to the obtained results, we speculate that the periodic variations in the observed Ha line shape and flux ...are due to shock waves generated by the supersonic motion of the components through the surrounding medium. Given the large observational effort needed to reveal this spectroscopically resolved binary orbital motion, we suggest that many such systems may exist in similar objects even if they are hard to find. Detecting more of them will provide us with insight into the BH mass growth process.
Keywords:black hole physics / galaxies: active / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: Seyfert / quasars: individual (NGC 4151) / shock waves
Source:Astrophysical Journal, 2012, 759, 2
- Gravitation and the large scale structure of the Universe (RS-176003)
- Astrophysical Spectroscopy of Extragalactic Objects (RS-176001)
- La Junta de Andalucia [P08-FQM-4205], RFBR [N09-02-01136a, 12-02-01237a]