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Title: A NEW APPROACH TO CONSTRAIN BLACK HOLE SPINS IN ACTIVE GALAXIES USING OPTICAL REVERBERATION MAPPING

A tight relation between the size of the broad-line region (BLR) and optical luminosity has been established in about 50 active galactic nuclei studied through reverberation mapping of the broad Hβ emission line. The R {sub BLR}-L relation arises from simple photoionization considerations. Using a general relativistic model of an optically thick, geometrically thin accretion disk, we show that the ionizing luminosity jointly depends on black hole mass, accretion rate, and spin. The non-monotonic relation between the ionizing and optical luminosity gives rise to a complicated relation between the BLR size and the optical luminosity. We show that the reverberation lag of Hβ to the varying continuum depends very sensitively on black hole spin. For retrograde spins, the disk is so cold that there is a deficit of ionizing photons in the BLR, resulting in shrinkage of the hydrogen ionization front with increasing optical luminosity, and hence shortened Hβ lags. This effect is specially striking for luminous quasars undergoing retrograde accretion, manifesting in strong deviations from the canonical R {sub BLR}-L relation. This could lead to a method to estimate black hole spins of quasars and to study their cosmic evolution. At the same time, the small scatter of themore » observed R {sub BLR}-L relation for the current sample of reverberation-mapped active galaxies implies that the majority of these sources have rapidly spinning black holes.« less
Authors:
; ; ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Key Laboratory for Particle Astrophysics, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19B Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049 (China)
  2. Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Peking University, Beijing 100875 (China)
  3. Yunnan Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650011 (China)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365161
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 792; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCRETION DISKS; BLACK HOLES; GALACTIC EVOLUTION; GALAXIES; GALAXY NUCLEI; LUMINOSITY; MAPPING; MASS; PHOTOIONIZATION; QUASARS; RELATIVISTIC RANGE; SPIN; STAR EVOLUTION