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The nuclear disk in M 87: A review

  • Holland Ford
  • Zlatan Tsvetanov
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 530)

Abstract

The disk in the center of M 87 is a prototype for gas orbiting a massive central object. Three sets of HST + COSTAR FOS and FOC observations provide strong evidence that the nuclear disk in M 87 is in Keplerian rotation around a black hole with a mass of (2 – 3)×109 M. A deep (6 orbits), high resolution Hα+[N II] PC2 HST image shows a trailing, three arm spiral superposed on the underlying nuclear disk. Several of the extended filaments appear to connect directly to the disk. The filaments extending to the NW appear to be twisted, as in NGC 4258. Earlier arguments that the NW filaments are flowing from the nucleus are supported by the presence of blue shifted non-Keplerian components within 20 pc of the nucleus. The gas in the blue and red shifted non-Keplerian components has negative energy and will fall back into the nucleus. The morphological and kinematical observations can be explained by assuming that the filaments originate in a bidirectional wind emanating from the disk. Such a wind will carry away angular momentum, enabling gas in the disk to move toward the black hole.

Small (r ∼ 1″; r ∼100 – 200 pc), well-defined dusty (D-type) and ionized (I-type) “nuclear” disks are common in elliptical galaxies. We suggest that the size of the black hole’s radius of influence R BH relative to the radius of the nuclear disk R disk determines whether the disk will be a D-type or I-type. I-type disks (M 87 and M 81) occur when R BHR disk. Differential Keplerian rotation throughout the disk may then generate turbulence and shocks that ionize the gas. D-type disks (NGC 4261 and NGC 6251) occur when R BHR disk. The regions of a disk that are exterior to R BH will rotate at approximately constant angular velocity in the galaxy’s stellar potential. In the absence of differential rotation, shocks will be suppressed, and the gas will remain cold and dusty. Intermediate D/I types (3C 264) may occur when R BH is a significant fraction of the disk’s radius. Comparison of R BH with the sizes of the ionized regions in M 87, NGC 4261, and NGC 6251 supports these suggestions.

Keywords

Black Hole Accretion Disk Massive Black Hole Elliptical Galaxy Keplerian Motion 
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.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holland Ford
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zlatan Tsvetanov
    • 1
  1. 1.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Space Telescope Science InstituteBaltimoreUSA

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