Letter

Magnetic origin of black hole winds across the mass scale

Received:
Accepted:
Published online:

Abstract

Invariably, black hole accretion disks seem to produce plasma outflows that result in blue-shifted absorption features in their spectra1. The X-ray absorption-line properties of these outflows are diverse, ranging in velocity from non-relativistic2 (~300 km s–1) to sub-relativistic3 (~0.1c, where c is the speed of light) and a similarly broad range in the ionization states of the wind plasma2,4. We report here that semi-analytical, self-similar magnetohydrodynamic wind models that have successfully accounted for the X-ray absorber properties of supermassive black holes5,6 also offer a good fit to the high-resolution X-ray spectrum of the accreting stellar-mass black hole GRO J1655–40. This provides an explicit theoretical argument of their magnetohydrodynamic origin (aligned with earlier observational claims)7 and supports the notion of a universal magnetic structure of the observed winds across all known black hole sizes.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. James Madison University, 800 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807, USA.

    • Keigo Fukumura
  2. NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA

    • Demosthenes Kazanas
    • , Chris Shrader
    •  & Francesco Tombesi
  3. Universities Space Research Association, 10211 Wincopin Circle, Suite 500, Columbia, Maryland 21044, USA

    • Chris Shrader
  4. Physics Department, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 3200003, Israel

    • Ehud Behar
  5. Astronomy Department, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA

    • Ehud Behar
    •  & Francesco Tombesi
  6. Dipartimento di Fisica, Universita’di Roma Tor Vergata, Via della Ricerca Scientifica 1, I-00133 Roma, Italy

    • Francesco Tombesi
  7. Academy of Athens, Soranou Efesiou 2, GR 11527 Athens, Greece

    • Ioannis Contopoulos

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Contributions

K.F. led the overall model development and data fitting procedures. D.K., C.S, E.B. and F.T. each contributed to the validation, interpretation and presentation of the final results. The baseline wind model was originally formulated by I.C. In particular, D.K. provided insights connecting our results to the broader picture of accretion-induced outflows in astrophysical environments and E.B. provided technical advice on the details of atomic physics crucial to the X-ray spectroscopic analyses in this work. All authors contributed to writing the manuscript and preparing the figures and tables.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Keigo Fukumura.

Supplementary information

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    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–4 and Supplementary Tables 1–2.