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Comment: 31 pages, 6 figures, To appear in Belloni, T. (ed.): The Jet Paradigm - From Microquasars to Quasars, Lect. Notes Phys. 794 (2009)
A solid theoretical understanding of how inflowing, accreting plasma around black holes and other compact objects gives rise to outflowing winds and jets is still lacking, despite decades of observations. The fact that similar processes and morphologies are observed in both X-ray binaries and active galactic nuclei has led to suggestions that the underlying physics could scale with black hole mass, which could provide a new handle on the problem. In the last decade, simultaneous broadband campaigns of the fast-varying X-ray binaries particularly in their microquasar state have driven the development of, and in some cases altered, our ideas about the inflow/outflow connection in accreting black holes. Specifically, the discovery of correlations between the radio, infrared, and X-ray bands has revealed a remarkable connectivity between t...
Before the launch of Chandra, our Galactic Center supermassive black hole, Sgr A*, had never been positively identified outside the radio bands. A great deal has changed in the past decade, starting with the discovery that our own backyard harbors a very weak, yet clearly active, galactic nucleus. I will review how this revelation has been a boon for accretion studies around black holes in general and has helped us place our own Galaxy in context within the active galactic nuclei (AGN) zoology. Chandra’s exquisite resolution has also unveiled entirely new populations of faint sources and transients, as well as regions of extreme gas dynamics and hints of prior, more typical AGN-like activity in our Galactic Center.
Outflowing jets are observed in a variety of astronomical objects such as accreting compact objects from X-ray binaries (XRBs) to active galactic nuclei (AGN), as well as at stellar birth and death. Yet we still do not know exactly what they are comprised of, why and how they form, or their exact relationship with the accretion flow. In this talk I will focus on jets in black hole systems, which provide the ideal test population for studying the relationship between inflow and outflow over an extreme range in mass and accretion rate. I will present several recent results from coordinated multi-wavelength studies of low-luminosity sources. These results not only support similar trends in weakly accreting black hole behavior across the mass scale, but also suggest that the same underlying physical model can explain their broadband spectr...
Is the radio emission of the Galaxy's supermassive black hole candidate Sgr A* coming from an accretion flow or a jet-like outflow? The recent discovery of internal radio structure in Sgr A* through mm-VLBI observations now allows constraining the hitherto hotly disputed nature of this emission, at scales from a few out to some hundred Schwarzschild radii. The frequency-dependent size implies a stratified, optically thick plasma with the highest frequencies corresponding to the smallest scales. Moreover, measurements of the radio variability show a clear time lag between 22 GHz and 43 GHz such that the higher frequencies, i.e. smaller scales, lead the lower frequencies, i.e. larger scales. Since the source is optically thick, time lag and structural information together provide an indication of the actual bulk flow velocity and directi...
While the non-thermal radio through at least near-infrared emission in the hard state in X-ray binaries (XRBs) is known to originate in jets, the source of the non-thermal X-ray component is still uncertain. We introduce a new model for this emission, which takes into account the transient nature of outflows, and show that it can explain the observed properties of the X-ray spectrum. Rapid radiative cooling of the electrons naturally accounts for the break often seen below around 10 keV, and for the canonical spectral slope F νvpropν–1/2 observed below the break. We derive the constraints set by the data for both synchrotron- and Compton-dominated models. We show that for the synchrotron-dominated case, the jet should be launched at radii comparable to the inner radius of the disk (~few 100 rs for the 2000 outburst of XTE J1118+480), w...
GRS 1915+105 is a very peculiar black hole binary that exhibits accretion-related states that are not observed in any other stellar-mass black hole system. One of these states, however – referred to as the plateau state – may be related to the canonical hard state of black hole X-ray binaries. Both the plateau and hard state are associated with steady, relatively lower X-ray emission and flat/inverted radio emission, that is sometimes resolved into compact, self-absorbed jets. To investigate the relationship between the plateau and the hard state, we fit two multi-wavelength observations using a steady-state outflow-dominated model, developed for hard state black hole binaries. The data sets consist of quasi-simultaneous observations in radio, near-infrared and X-ray bands. Interestingly, we find both significant differences between th...
Context. The black hole at the Galactic Center, Sgr A*, is the prototype of a galactic nucleus at a very low level of activity. Its radio through submm-wave emission is known to come from a region close to the event horizon, however, the source of the emission is still under debate. A successful theory explaining the emission is based on a relativistic jet model scaled down from powerful quasars. Aims. We want to test the predictive power of this established jet model against newly available measurements of wavelength-dependent time lags and the size-wavelength structure in Sgr A*. Methods Using all available closure amplitude VLBI data from different groups, we again derived the intrinsic wavelength-dependent size of Sgr A*. This allowed us to calculate the expected frequency-dependent time lags of radio flares, assuming a range of in...
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