157 research outputs found

    Models of Accretion Disks

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    An accretion flow onto a supermassive black hole is the primary process powering quasars. However, a geometry of this flow is not well constrained. Both global MHD simulations and observations suggest that there are several emission components present in the nucleus: an accretion disk, hot plasma (corona or sphere) with electrons scattering the optical and UV photons, and an outflow (wind/jet). The relative location and size of these emission components, as well as their "interplay" affect the emerging quasar spectrum. I review briefly standard accretion disk models and the recent progress, point out discrepancies between the predicted and observed spectra and discuss some issues in fitting these models to the broad-band spectral energy distribution of quasars. I present examples of models fitted simultaneously to the optical-UV-X-ray data and possible constraints on the parameters.Comment: Invited review presented at the conference on "The Multicolored Landscape of Compact Objects and Their Explosive Origins" held on June 11-24, 2006 in Cefalu, Ital

    An extraordinary view of the universe : the use of X-ray vision in space science

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    X-ray emission from cosmic sources indicates that these sources are heated to temperatures exceeding a million degrees or that they contain highly energetic particles. Recent X-ray telescopes, such as the Chandra X-ray Observatory and XMM-Newton, observed thousands of cosmic X-ray sources. These observations greatly impacted our understanding of the physics governing the evolution of structures across the universe. Here, I review and highlight some of these important results

    Probing the accretion disk - jet connection via instabilities in the inner accretion flow. From microquasars to quasars

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    We present various instability mechanisms in the accreting black hole systems which might indicate at the connection between the accretion disk and jet. The jets observed in microquasars can have a persistent or blobby morphology. Correlated with the accretion luminosity, this might provide a link to the cyclic outbursts of the disk. Such duty-cycle type of behavior on short timescales results from the thermal instability caused by the radiation pressure domination. The same type of instability may explain the cyclic radioactivity of the supermassive black hole systems. The somewhat longer timescales are characteristic for the instability caused by the partial hydrogen ionization. The distortions of the jet direction and complex morphology of the sources can be caused by precession of the disk-jet axis.Comment: 2 pages, 2 figures; Proceedings of the 275 IAU Symposium "Jets at all scales", Buenos Aires, 13-17.09.2010; eds. G. Romero, R. Sunyaev, T. Bellon

    Detecting Unspecified Structure in Low-Count Images

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    Unexpected structure in images of astronomical sources often presents itself upon visual inspection of the image, but such apparent structure may either correspond to true features in the source or be due to noise in the data. This paper presents a method for testing whether inferred structure in an image with Poisson noise represents a significant departure from a baseline (null) model of the image. To infer image structure, we conduct a Bayesian analysis of a full model that uses a multiscale component to allow flexible departures from the posited null model. As a test statistic, we use a tail probability of the posterior distribution under the full model. This choice of test statistic allows us to estimate a computationally efficient upper bound on a p-value that enables us to draw strong conclusions even when there are limited computational resources that can be devoted to simulations under the null model. We demonstrate the statistical performance of our method on simulated images. Applying our method to an X-ray image of the quasar 0730+257, we find significant evidence against the null model of a single point source and uniform background, lending support to the claim of an X-ray jet

    Sherpa: a Mission-Independent Data Analysis Application

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    The ever-increasing quality and complexity of astronomical data underscores the need for new and powerful data analysis applications. This need has led to the development of Sherpa, a modeling and fitting program in the CIAO software package that enables the analysis of multi-dimensional, multi-wavelength data. In this paper, we present an overview of Sherpa's features, which include: support for a wide variety of input and output data formats, including the new Model Descriptor List (MDL) format; a model language which permits the construction of arbitrarily complex model expressions, including ones representing instrument characteristics; a wide variety of fit statistics and methods of optimization, model comparison, and parameter estimation; multi-dimensional visualization, provided by ChIPS; and new interactive analysis capabilities provided by embedding the S-Lang interpreted scripting language. We conclude by showing example Sherpa analysis sessions.Comment: To appear in Proc. SPIE Conf. 4477. 12 pages, 4 figure

    Handbook of X-Ray Astronomy

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    X-ray astronomy was born in the aftermath of World War II as military rockets were repurposed to lift radiation detectors above the atmosphere for a few minutes at a time. These early flights detected and studied X-ray emission from the Solar corona. The first sources beyond the Solar System were detected during a rocket flight in 1962 by a team headed by Riccardo Giaccom at American Science and Engineering, a company founded by physicists from MIT. The rocket used Geiger counters with a system designed to reduce non-X-ray backgrounds and collimators limiting the region of sky seen by the counters. As the rocket spun, the field of view (FOV) happened to pass over what was later found to be the brightest non-Solar X-ray source; later designated See X-1. It also detected a uniform background glow which could not be resolved into individual sources. A follow-up campaign using X-ray detectors with better spatial resolution and optical telescopes identified See X-1 as an interacting binary with a compact (neutron star) primary. This success led to further suborbital rocket flights by a number of groups. More X-ray binaries were discovered, as well as X-ray emission from supernova remnants, the radio galaxies M87 and Cygnus-A, and the Coma cluster. Detectors were improved and Geiger counters were replaced by proportional counters, which provided information about energy spectra of the sources. A constant challenge was determining precise positions of sources as only collimators were available
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