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Fuel for the black hole

A new paper from AMBER reveals the innermost part of an active galactic nuclei, for the first time with spectral information and 3 telescopes.

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Inner region of an AGN
This illustration (from the press release) show how would look like the central part of an Active Galaxy Nucleus.

By combining the light of three powerful infrared telescopes, an international research team led by G. Weigelt has observed the active accretion phase of a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy tens of millions of light years away, a method that has yielded an unprecedented amount of data for such observations. The resolution at which they were able to observe this highly luminescent active galactic nucleus (AGN) has given them direct confirmation of how mass accretes onto black holes in centers of galaxies. The use of near-infrared interferometry allowed the team to resolve a ring-shaped dust distribution (generally called "dust torus") in the inner region of the nucleus of the active galaxy NGC 3783. This dust torus probably represents the reservoir of gaseous and dusty material that "feeds" the hot gas disk ("accretion disk") and the supermassive black hole in the center of this galaxy. The resolved dust torus has an angular radius of only 0.7 milli-arcseconds on the sky, an angle that is 5 million times smaller than one degree. This angular radius corresponds to a radius of approximately 0.5 light years for a distance of 150 million light years.

More details can be foun in the press releases at MPIfR, at INAF, at University of Santa Barbara


Latest articles :
  • List of AMBER publications
  • [ Date : Monday 21 October 2013 ]
  • Fuel for the black hole
  • [ Date : Monday 30 July 2012 ]
  • On the trail of a disk around a star
  • [ Date : vendredi 17 juin 2011 ]
  • AMBER observes a quasar in medium resolution
  • [ Date : vendredi 10 juin 2011 ]
  • AMBER instrument forum @ESO
  • [ Date : jeudi 26 mai 2011 ]
    Latest news
    Friday 10 June
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    AMBER has detected fringes on 3C273, a quasar of K=10, thanks to a new observing mode that will soon be available to all observers. More info can be found in the press releases.
    Saturday 12 February
    AMBER data reduction workshop in 2011
    The JMMC is organizing the 3rd AMBER Science and Data Reduction JMMC Workshop in Grenoble, on 21-22 Mar 2011. This is the opportunity to present the new amdlib v3 version of the AMBER data reduction software to gather the astronomers who have obtained AMBER data. This will be the occasion to (...)
    Wednesday 26 January
    AMBER switches to 3D
    AMBER has made its first velocity-resolved image this year. The image is of a hot supergiant star, which is revealed to host a disk similar to the disks around younger stars. This resut is reported in an A&A paper and in several press releases in French, German and English (here, and here) (...)
    Wednesday 21 July
    Release of AMBER data reduction package version 3.0
    On behalf of the JMMC AMBER data reduction working group, we are pleased to announce the release of the version 3.0 of the AMBER data processing package. You can find it on the JMMC website together with an installation guide, a user’s manual and demo data/script. This release contains (...)
    Wednesday 23 June
    AMBER handed over to ESO
    The “Provisional Acceptance Chili” (PAC) of AMBER has been declared “closed” on May 20, 2010 by Mark Casali, head of the Instrumentation division of ESO. This means that ESO considers that the instrument is finished and operates within specifications, (or within accepted (...)

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