Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Accretion Discs Show Their True Colours

24.07.2008
VLT observations of quasars reconcile observations with models

Quasars are the brilliant cores of remote galaxies, at the hearts of which lie supermassive black holes that can generate enough power to outshine the Sun a trillion times. These mighty power sources are fuelled by interstellar gas, thought to be sucked into the hole from a surrounding 'accretion disc'.

A paper in this week's issue of the journal Nature, partly based on observations collected with ESO's Very Large Telescope, verifies a long-standing prediction about the intensely luminous radiation emitted by these accretion discs.

"Astronomers were puzzled by the fact that the best models of these discs couldn't quite be reconciled with some of the observations, in particular, with the fact that these discs did not appear as blue as they should be," explains lead-author Makoto Kishimoto.

Such a discrepancy could be the signal that there was something very wrong with the models. With his colleagues, he investigated this discrepancy by studying the polarised light from six quasars. This enabled them to demonstrate that the disc spectrum is as blue as predicted.

"The crucial observational difficulty here has been that the disc is surrounded by a much larger torus containing hot dust, whose light partly outshines that of the disc," says Kishimoto. "Because the light coming from the disc is scattered in the disc vicinity and thus polarised, by observing only polarised light from the quasars, one can uncover the buried light from the disc."

In a similar way that a fisherman would wear polarised sunglasses to help get rid of the glare from the water surface and allow him to see more clearly under the water, the filter on the telescope allowed the astronomers to see beyond surrounding clouds of dust and gas to the blue colour of the disc in infrared light.

The observations were done with the FORS and ISAAC instruments on one of the 8.2-m Unit Telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope, located in the Atacama Desert, in Chile, as well as several other telescopes, including STFC's UKIRT.

The standard picture of the accretion disc is therefore vindicated. The authors believe that further measurements could eventually provide valuable insight into how and where the disc ends, and how material is being supplied to the disc.

Henri Boffin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.eso.org
http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/press-rel/pr-2008/pr-21-08.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

nachricht NASA's fermi finds possible dark matter ties in andromeda galaxy
22.02.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>