The M87 Black Hole Mass From Gas-Dynamical Models Of Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph Observations




Walsh, Jonelle L.
Barth, Aaron J.
Ho, Luis C.
Sarzi, Marc

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The supermassive black hole of M87 is one of the most massive black holes known and has been the subject of several stellar and gas-dynamical mass measurements; however, the most recent revision to the stellar-dynamical black hole mass measurement is a factor of about two larger than the previous gas-dynamical determinations. Here, we apply comprehensive gas-dynamical models that include the propagation of emission-line profiles through the telescope and spectrograph optics to new Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. Unlike the previous gas-dynamical studies of M87, we map out the complete kinematic structure of the emission-line disk within similar to 40 pc from the nucleus, and find that a small amount of velocity dispersion internal to the gas disk is required to match the observed line widths. We examine a scenario in which the intrinsic velocity dispersion provides dynamical support to the disk, and determine that the inferred black hole mass increases by only 6%. Incorporating this effect into the error budget, we ultimately measure a mass of M-BH = (3.5(-0.7)(+0.9)) x 10(9)M circle dot (68% confidence). Our gas-dynamical black hole mass continues to differ from the most recent stellar-dynamical mass by a factor of two, underscoring the need for carrying out more cross-checks between the two main black hole mass measurement methods.



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Walsh, Jonelle L., Aaron J. Barth, Luis C. Ho, and Marc Sarzi. "The M87 black hole mass from gas-dynamical models of space telescope imaging spectrograph observations." The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 770, No. 2 (Jun., 2013): 86.