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

A Monte Carlo Markov Chain based investigation of black hole spin in the active galaxy NGC3783

arXiv:1204.5747

by Reynolds, C. S. and Brenneman, L. W. and Lohfink, A. M. and Trippe, M. L. and Miller, J. M. and Fabian, A. C. and Nowak, M. A.
Submitted to the Astrophysical Journal

The analysis of relativistically broadened X-ray spectral features from the inner accretion disk provides a powerful tool for measuring the spin of supermassive black holes (SMBH) in active galactic nuclei (AGN). However, AGN spectra are often complex and careful analysis employing appropriate and self-consistent models are required if one is to obtain robust results. In this paper, we revisit the deep July-2009 Suzaku observation of the Seyfert galaxy NGC3783 in order to study in a rigorous manner the robustness of the inferred black hole spin parameter. Using Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC) techniques, we identify a (partial) modeling degeneracy between the iron abundance of the disk and the black hole spin parameter. We show that the data for NGC3783 strongly require both supersolar iron abundance (Z_Fe=2-4Zsun) and a rapidly spinning black hole (a>0.88). We discuss various astrophysical considerations that can affect the measured abundance. We note that, while the abundance enhancement inferred in NGC3783 is modest, the X-ray analysis of some other objects has found extreme iron abundances. We introduce the hypothesis that the radiative levitation of iron ions in the innermost regions of radiation-dominated AGN disks can enhance the photospheric abundance of iron. We show that radiative levitation is a plausible mechanism in the very inner regions of high accretion rate AGN disks.

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