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Patterns of Light Emitted From Accretion Disks Vary Depending on Supermassive Black Hole Mass

Colin Burke and colleagues of the American Association For The Advancement Of Science say the flickering light emitted by astrophysical accretion disks can reveal the mass of the supermassive black hole (SMBH) at their center, according to a new study. The findings provide a novel method for characterizing the masses of SMBHs using optical observations and help to constrain the poorly understood processes that occur within accretion disks. Accretion disks – made of gas, dust and plasma – surround the SMBHs located at the centers of active galaxies. As material from the accretion disk falls toward the black hole,…
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