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Galactic Supermassive Black Hole

by Melia Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 344 pages
AU$163.00 NZ$167.83
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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Here, one of the world's leading astrophysicists provides the first comprehensive and logically structured overview of the many ideas and discoveries pertaining to the supermassive black hole at the galactic center known as Sagittarius A*. By far the closest galactic nucleus in the universe, Sagittarius A* alone can provide us with a realistic expectation of learning about the physics of strong gravitational fields, and the impact of such fields on the behavior of matter and radiation under severe physical conditions. Its proximity may even provide the opportunity to directly test one of general relativity's most enigmatic predictions--the existence of closed pockets of space-time hidden behind an event horizon. The plethora of research on Sagittarius A* since its discovery in 1974 has long seemed an interwoven pattern of loose threads. No one has successfully synthesized this growing body of work into a manageable, coherent book both for professional researchers and for students taking courses focusing on black holes and galactic nuclei--until now. With Fulvio Melia's The Galactic Supermassive Black Hole, readers finally have at their disposal a one-volume crucible of essential ideas, logically streamlined but with thorough references for those wishing to explore the various topics in greater depth.

Foreword vii
Preface xiii

CHAPTER 1: The Galactic Center 1
1.1 Discovery of Sagittarius A* 2
1.2 Radio Morphology of the Central Region 5
1.3 X-ray Morphology of the Central Region 10
1.4 Sagittarius A East 17

CHAPTER 2: The Radio Source Sagittarius A* 25
2.1 Position of Sagittarius A* 27
2.2 Proper Motion 32
2.3 Structure as a Function of Frequency 37

CHAPTER 3: Sagittarius A*'s Spectrum 42
3.1 The Radio Spectrum 42
3.2 Linear and Circular Polarization 46
3.3 Infrared Observations 55
3.4 X-ray Observations 58
3.5 Observed High-Energy Characteristics 65

CHAPTER 4: Variability 71
4.1 Short-Term Variability in the IR and X-rays 71
4.2 Long-Term Variability in the Radio 81

CHAPTER 5: The Central Star Cluster 86
5.1 The Stellar Cusp Surrounding the Black Hole 87
5.2 Stellar Constituents and Dynamics 101
5.3 Stellar Orbits and the Enclosed Mass 109

CHAPTER 6: The Four-Dimensional Spacetime 114
6.1 The Flat Spacetime Metric 114
6.2 Relativistic Transformation of Physical Laws 126
6.3 Accelerated Frames 132
6.4 General Relativity 137
6.5 Particle Orbits and Trajectories 140
6.6 The Kerr Metric 149

CHAPTER 7: Mass Accretion and Expulsion 156
7.1 Sagittarius A*'s Gaseous Environment 158
7.2 Bondi-Hoyle Capture from Distributed Sources 162
7.3 Accretion Close to Sagittarius A* 165
7.4 Magnetic Field Dissipation 167
7.5 A Compact Magnetized Disk 176
7.6 Expulsion of Matter 204

CHAPTER 8: Flares 226
8.1 Flare Physics 226
8.2 Periodicity 234
8.3 General Relativistic Flux Modulations 240

CHAPTER 9: Strong Field Physics 245
9.1 Spin-Induced Disk Precession 246
9.2 Microlensing 251
9.3 Imaging the Shadow of the Black Hole 259

References 265
Index 287

A gripping high-level account of the best-studied supermassive black hole in the universe, truly a central object of modern astrophysics. Professionals, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates will all benefit from this physics-rich and authoritative tour through the heart of our galaxy. I can't wait to use it in my courses. Niel Brandt, Pennsylvania State University This is a timely, comprehensive, and readable account of the current state of knowledge about the Milky Way's supermassive black hole and its stellar and gaseous environment. There is definitely a need for a book like this. David Merritt, Rochester Institute of Technology Fulvio Melia's new book sets a high standard that will not be displaced soon. A culmination of the author's own extensive work over the past twenty years, it is an ideal resource for researchers who wish to become familiar with the state of the art on the galactic black hole. It will also be a valuable reference for experts who want the key ideas assembled coherently in one place. And it can be used as a text in graduate courses employing the galactic black hole as a vehicle to convey a range of important astrophysical topics. Mark Morris, University of California, Los Angeles Combining large scale astronomical observations with the careful reasoning of physics leads to the widely encompassing field of astrophysics. Apparently, the physical laws that rule interactions on Earth also rule the actions across our university. Fulvio Melia takes this consideration to task in his book The Galactic Supermassive Black Hole. Within the book, the equations bring reason to some very murky observations and sharpen our view of the heavens. Universe Today Melia has prepared his book as a logically arranged and comprehensive compilation of our current knowledge...For those who wish to become familiar with the current thinking, this is the book to read; it is the only complete overview of the subject. A. Spero Choice
Fulvio Melia is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Arizona and Associate Editor of the 'Astrophysical Journal Letters'. His books include 'The Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy' (Princeton), 'The Edge of Infinity: Supermassive Black Holes in the Universe', and 'Electrodynamics'.