A team of bold astronomers came across direct proof of an energetic hot wind originating from the hot accretion flow onto a low accreting supermassive black hole. Such a phenomenon is quite intriguing yet peculiar.
Supermassive black holes are well-known for their reckless behavior: they swallow a lot of gas around them. But that gas, dubbed black hole accretion flow, is another piece of the puzzle.
Astronomers aim now to understand better the accretion processes around a black hole.
Here is what you need to know.
An Energetic Outflow Under Investigation
The recent discovery includes a mighty observational proof of an energetic outflow from M81* – a prototype LLAGN laying close to a massive spiral galaxy Messier 81.
According to the astronomers, the spectrum, which possesses advanced resolution and sensitivity, was captured by the Chandra X-ray Observatory 15 years ago. It stayed in the shadows for a long time until now.
The intriguing activity from M81* is shown by a couple of Fe XXVI Lyα emission lines. These traces had quasi-symmetrically redshifted and blue-shifted at 2800 kilometer/s. And as curious as this might get, there’s more.
A high Fe XXVI Lyα-to-Fe XXV Kα line ratio introduces a temperature of 140 million Kelvin of the line-emitting plasma.
What did the astronomers do?
The team needed to analyze the high-velocity and high-temperature plasma first. So, astronomers developed magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the hot accretion flow right into M81*.
Next, they made an artificial X-ray spectrum of the wind discharged from the hot accretion flow as indicated by the simulations.
What they discovered is genuinely fantastic.
The team found that the predicted emission lines matched the Chandra spectrum, offering enough proof of hot wind. Also, the energetics of the wind could affect the nearby environment of M81*.
The astronomers aimed to discover the missing piece between the theory and observations of how accretion flows, and they succeeded. Still, they have more other things to figure out.