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Narrowband HST images of M87: Evidence for a disk of ionized gas around a massive black hole
Ford, Holland C.; Harms, Richard J.; Tsvetanov, Zlatan I.; Hartig, George F.; Dressel, Linda L.; Kriss, Gerard A.; Bohlin, Ralph C.; Davidsen, Arthur F.; Margon, Bruce; Kochhar, Ajay K.
AA(Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD, US), AB(Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD, US), AC(Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD, US), AD(Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD, US), AE(Applied Research Corporation, Landover, MD, US), AF(Applied Research Corporation, Landover, MD, US), AG(Space Telescope Science Inst., Baltimore, MD, US), AH(Space Telescope Science Inst., Baltimore, MD, US), AI(University of Washington, Seattle, WA, US), AJ(University of Washington, Seattle, WA, US)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 435, no. 1, p. L27-L30 (ApJL Homepage)
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NASA/STI Keywords:
Accretion Disks, Active Galactic Nuclei, Black Holes (Astronomy), Elliptical Galaxies, Interstellar Matter, Ionized Gases, Plasma Jets, Velocity Measurement, Astronomical Photography, H Alpha Line, Hubble Space Telescope, Kinematics, Mass To Light Ratios, Nitrogen, Radial Velocity, Red Shift
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We present Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field/Planetary Camera-2 (HST WFPC2) narrowband H-alpha + (N II) images of M87 which show a small disk of ionized gas with apparent spiral structure surrounding the nucleus of M87. The jet projects approximately 19.5 deg from the minor axis of the disk, which suggests that the jet is approximately normal to the disk. In a companion Letter, Harms et al. measure the radial velocities at r = +/- 0.25 sec along a line perpendicular to the jet, showing that one side of the disk is approaching at 500 +/- 50 km/s and the other side of the disk is receding at 500 +/- 50 km/s. Absorption associated with the disk and the sense of rotation imply that the apparent spiral arms trail the rotation. The observed radial velocites corrected for a 42 deg inclination of the disk imply rotation at +/- 750 km/s. Analysis of velocity measurements at four positions near the nucleus gives a total mass of approximately 2.4 +/- 0.7 x 109 solar mass within 18 pc of the nucleus, and a mass-to-light ratio (M/L)I = 170. We conclude that there is a disk of ionized gas feeding a massive black hole in the center of M87.

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