Spectroscopy of the near-nuclear regions of Cygnus A: Estimating the mass of the supermassive black hole

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Title: Spectroscopy of the near-nuclear regions of Cygnus A: Estimating the mass of the supermassive black hole
Author: Tadhunter, Clive; Marconi, Alessandro; Axon, David; Wills, Karen; Robinson, TG; Jackson, Neal
Abstract: We use a combination of high spatial resolution optical and near-IR spectroscopic data to make a detailed study of the kinematics of the NLR gas in the near-nuclear regions of the powerful, FRII radio galaxy Cygnus A (z=0.0560), with the overall goal of placing limits on the mass of any supermassive black hole in the core. Our K-band infrared observations (0.75 arcsec seeing) -- taken with NIRSPEC on the Keck II telescope -- show a smooth rotation pattern across the nucleus in the Paschen alpha and H_2 emission lines along a slit position (PA180) close to perpendicular to the radio axis, however, there is no evidence for such rotation along the radio axis (PA105). Higher spatial resolution observations of the [OIII]5007 emission line -- taken with STIS on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) -- confirm the general rotation pattern of the gas in the direction perpendicular to the radio axis, and provide evidence for steep velocity gradients within a radius of 0.1 arcsec of the core. The circular velocities measured from both the Keck and HST data lead to an estimate of the mass of the supermassive black hole of 2.5+/-0.7x10^9 solar masses. For the host galaxy properties of Cygnus A, this mass is consistent with the global correlations between black hole mass and host galaxy properties deduced for non-active galaxies. Therefore, despite the extreme power of its radio source and the quasar-like luminosity of its AGN, the black hole in Cygnus A is not unusually massive considering theluminosity of its host galaxy. Indeed, the estimated mass of the black hole in Cygnus A is similar to that inferred for the supermassive black hole in the FRI radio galaxy M87, despite the fact that the AGN and radio jets of Cygnus A are 2 -- 3 orders of magnitude more powerful. (Refer to PDF file for exact formulas).
Description: RIT community members may access full-text via RIT Libraries licensed databases: http://library.rit.edu/databases/
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/1883
Publishers URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-8711.2003.06588.x
Date: 2003-07

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