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Probing General Relativity with Accreting Black Holes
Fabian, A. C.
AA(Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road. Cambridge CB3 0HA UK )
Feeding Compact Objects: Accretion on All Scales, Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, IAU Symposium, Volume 290, pp. 3-12
Publication Date:
Black holes, X-ray astronomy, active galactic nuclei,
Abstract Copyright:
(c) 2013: Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2013
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Most of the X-ray emission from luminous accreting black holes emerges from within 20 gravitational radii. The effective emission radius is several times smaller if the black hole is rapidly spinning. General Relativistic effects can then be very important. Large spacetime curvature causes strong lightbending and large gravitational redshifts. The hard X-ray, power-law-emitting corona irradiates the accretion disc generating an X-ray reflection component. Atomic features in the reflection spectrum allow gravitational redshifts to be measured. Time delays between observed variations in the power-law and the reflection spectrum (reverberation) enable the physical scale of the reflecting region to be determined. The relative strength of the reflection and power-law continuum depends on light bending. All of these observed effects enable the immediate environment of the black hole where the effects of General Relativity are on display to be probed and explored.

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