Unveiling Black Hole Winds from Space

What is the impact of massive winds launched close to supermassive black holes on the host galaxy?

Period: 2019-2023

Funding bodies: INTA and Comunidad de Madrid (Atracción de Talento Modalidad 1)

Project code: 2018-T1/TIC-11733

PI: Margherita Giustini

Collaborators: Prof. Daniel Proga (UNLV), Prof. Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo (UW), Prof. George Chartas (CofC), Dr. Gabriele Matzeu (INAF), Dr. James Reeves (UMBC and INAF), Dr. Valentina Braito (INAF), Dr. Massimo Cappi (INAF), Dr. Mauro Dadina (INAF), Prof. Cristian Vignali (UNIBO).

Using space-based observations of winds originating near supermassive black holes (SMBHs), the aim of the project is to understand how much radiative and mechanical feedback is exerted during the co-evolution of the SMBH and the host galaxy.

We make use of X-ray and UV spectroscopic observations of active galactic nuclei (AGN) at various cosmic distances and with various “dieting routines” in order to assess to what extent the radiation generated by mass accretion is responsible for launching massive winds close to the central SMBH, compared to magnetic field effects.

Once the physics of the accretion/ejection flow in AGN is unveiled, the amount of radiative and mechanical feedback exerted between the SMBH and the host galaxy will be determinable, therefore helping solving one of the hottest topics in modern astrophysics, that is: the formation and evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes.

Artist’s impression of a galaxy and its nuclear wind, perhaps expelled by radiation emitted from matter near the central black hole; in the centre of the image is a theoretical outline of the physical structure of the accretion and ejection flow of matter near the central black hole. (Credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser for the image of the galaxy; M. Giustini & D. Proga for the central schematic figure)

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