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