An artist’s impression of what an active galactic nucleus might look like at close quarters. The accretion disk produces the brilliant light in the centre. The broad-line region is just above the accretion disk and lost in the glare. Dust clouds are being driven upwards by the intense radiation. Credit: Peter Z. Harrington

One black hole or two? Dust clouds can explain puzzling features of active galactic nuclei

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), believe clouds of dust, rather than twin black holes, can explain the features found in active galactic nuclei (AGNs). The team publish their results today (14 June) in a paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

An artist’s impression of what an active galactic nucleus might look like at close quarters. The accretion disk produces the brilliant light in the centre. The broad-line region is just above the accretion disk and lost in the glare. Dust clouds are being driven upwards by the intense radiation. Credit: Peter Z. Harrington Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-09-black-hole-clouds-puzzling-features.html#jCp
An artist’s impression of what an active galactic nucleus might look like at close quarters. The accretion disk produces the brilliant light in the centre. The broad-line region is just above the accretion disk and lost in the glare. Dust clouds are being driven upwards by the intense radiation. Credit: Peter Z. Harrington

Many large galaxies have an AGN, a small bright central region powered by matter spiralling into a supermassive black hole. When these black holes are vigorously swallowing matter, they are surrounded by hot, rapidly-moving gas known as the “broad-line region” (so-called because the spectral lines from this region are broadened by the rapid motion of the gas).

The emission from this gas is one of the best sources of information about…

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-09-black-hole-clouds-puzzling-features.html#jCp

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