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HST FOS spectroscopy of M87: Evidence for a disk of ionized gas around a massive black hole
Harms, Richard J.; Ford, Holland C.; Tsvetanov, Zlatan I.; Hartig, George F.; Dressel, Linda L.; Kriss, Gerard A.; Bohlin, Ralph; Davidsen, Arthur F.; Margon, Bruce; Kochhar, Ajay K.
AA(Applied Research Corporation, Landover, MD, US), AB(Applied Research Corporation, Landover, 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. L35-L38 (ApJL Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Accretion Disks, Active Galactic Nuclei, Black Holes (Astronomy), Emission Spectra, Galactic Rotation, Ionized Gases, Plasma Jets, Faint Object Camera, Hubble Space Telescope, Kepler Laws, Radial Velocity, Spectrographs
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Using the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to observe the central region of M87, we have obtained spectra covering approximately 4600-6800 A at a spectral dispersion approximately 4.4 A per resolution element through the .26 sec diameter entrance aperture. One spectrum was obtained centered on the nucleus of M87 and two centered 0.25 sec off the nucleus at position angles of 21 deg and 201 deg, thus sampling the anticipated major axis of the disklike structure (described in a companion Letter) expected to lie approximately perpendicular to the axis of the M87 jet. Pointing errors for these observations are estimated to be less than 0.02 sec. Radial velocities of the ionized gas in the two positions 0.25 sec on either side of the nucleus are measured to be approx. equals +/- 500 km/s relative to the M87 systemic velocity. These observations plus emission-line spectra obtained at two additional locations near the nucleus show the ionized gas to be in Keplerian rotation about a mass M = (2.4 +/- 0.7) x 109 solar mass within the inner 0.25 sec of M87. Our results provide strong evidence for the presence of a supermassive nuclear black hole in M87.

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