Editors: Pau Amaro-Seoane & Bernard Schutz
The last GW Note is a Special Issues on eLISA/NGO

Towards the use of the most massive black hole candidates in AGN to test the Kerr paradigm


by Bambi, Cosimo
12 pages, 6 figures. To appear in PRD

The super-massive objects in galactic nuclei are thought to be the Kerr black holes predicted by General Relativity, although a definite proof of their actual nature is still lacking. The most massive objects in AGN ($latex M \sim 10^9 M_\odot$) seem to have a high radiative efficiency ($latex \eta \sim 0.4$) and a moderate mass accretion rate ($latex L_{\rm bol}/L_{\rm Edd} \sim 0.3$). The high radiative efficiency could suggest they are very rapidly-rotating black holes. The moderate luminosity could indicate that their accretion disk is geometrically thin. If so, these objects could be excellent candidates to test the Kerr black hole hypothesis. An accurate measurement of the radiative efficiency of an individual AGN may probe the geometry of the space-time around the black hole candidate with a precision comparable to the one achievable with future space-based gravitational-wave detectors like LISA. A robust evidence of the existence of a black hole candidate with $latex \eta > 0.32$ and accreting from a thin disk may be interpreted as an indication of new physics. For the time being, there are several issues to address before using AGN to test the Kerr paradigm, but the approach seems to be promising and capable of providing interesting results before the advent of gravitational wave astronomy.

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