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Black Hole Spin: Theory and Observation

  • M. MiddletonEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 440)

Abstract

In the standard paradigm, astrophysical black holes can be described solely by their mass and angular momentum—commonly referred to as ‘spin’—resulting from the process of their birth and subsequent growth via accretion. Whilst the mass has a standard Newtonian interpretation, the spin does not, with the effect of nonzero spin leaving an indelible imprint on the space-time closest to the black hole. As a consequence of relativistic frame-dragging, particle orbits are affected both in terms of stability and precession, which impacts on the emission characteristics of accreting black holes both stellar mass in black hole binaries (BHBs) and supermassive in active galactic nuclei (AGN). Over the last 30 years, techniques have been developed that take into account these changes to estimate the spin which can then be used to understand the birth and growth of black holes and potentially the powering of astrophysical jets. In this chapter, we provide a broad overview of both the theoretical effects of spin, the means by which it can be estimated and the results of ongoing campaigns.

Keywords

Accretion Disc Active Galactic Nucleus Mass Accretion Rate Accretion Flow Innermost Stable Circular Orbit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Chris Reynolds, Javier Garcia and Jack Steiner in proofreading and offering valuable suggestions.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of AstronomyCambridgeUK

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