Identifying Supermassive Black Hole Binaries with Broad Emission Line Diagnosis
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CitationShen, Yue, and Abraham Loeb. 2010. “IDENTIFYING SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE BINARIES WITH BROAD EMISSION LINE DIAGNOSIS.” The Astrophysical Journal 725 (1): 249–60. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637x/725/1/249.
AbstractDouble-peaked broad emission lines in active galactic nuclei may indicate the existence of a bound supermassive black hole (SMBH) binary where two distinct broad-line regions (BLRs) contribute together to the line profile. An alternative interpretation is a disk emitter origin for the double-peaked line profile. Using simple BLR models, we calculate the expected broad line profile for an SMBH binary at different separations. Under reasonable assumptions that both BLRs are illuminated by the two active SMBHs and that the ionizing flux at the BLR location is roughly constant, we confirm the emergence of double-peaked features and radial velocity drifts of the two peaks due to the binary orbital motion. However, such a clear double-peaked feature only arises in a particular stage of the binary evolution when the two black holes (BHs) are close enough such that the line-of-sight orbital velocity difference is larger than the FWHM of the individual broad components, while the two BLRs are still mostly distinct. Prior to this stage, the velocity splitting due to the orbit motion of the binary is too small to separate the emission from the two BLRs, leading to asymmetric broad line profiles in general. When the two BHs are even closer such that the two BLRs can no longer be distinct, the line profile becomes more complex and the splitting of the peaks does not correspond to the orbital motion of the binary. In this regime, there are no coherent radial velocity drifts in the peaks with time. Asymmetric line profiles are probably a far more common signature of binary SMBHs than double-peaked profiles. We discuss the temporal variations of the broad line profile for binary SMBHs and highlight the different behaviors of reverberation mapping in the binary and disk emitter cases, which may serve as a feasible tool to disentangle these two scenarios.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41393152
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