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Massive black hole binaries in active galactic nuclei

Abstract

Most theoretical discussions of active galactic nuclei (including quasars) attribute their energy production either to an accreting black hole or to a precursor stage—for instance a dense star cluster or a supermassive star—whose inevitable end point is a massive black hole1. We explore here the possibility that some active nuclei may contain two massive black holes in orbit about each other. This hypothesis suggests a new interpretation for the observed bending2 and apparent precession3 of radio jets emerging from these objects and may indeed be verified through detection of the direct consequences of orbital motion.

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