Over the past decade, evidence has mounted that several aspects of black hole (BH) accretion physics proceed in a mass-invariant way. One of the best examples of this scaling is the empirical "fundamental plane of BH accretion" relation linking mass, radio, and X-ray luminosity over eight orders of magnitude in BH mass. The currently favored theoretical interpretation of this relation is that the physics governing power output in weakly accreting BHs depends more on relative accretion rate than on mass. In order to test this theory, we explore whether a mass-invariant approach can simultaneously explain the broadband spectral energy distributions from two BHs at opposite ends of the mass scale but that are at similar Eddington accretion fractions. We find that the same model, with the same value of several fitted physical parameters expressed in mass-scaling units to enforce self-similarity, can provide a good description of two data sets from V404 Cyg and M81∗, a stellar and supermassive BH, respectively. Furthermore, only one of several potential emission scenarios for the X-ray band is successful, suggesting it is the dominant process driving the fundamental plane relation at this accretion rate. This approach thus holds promise for breaking current degeneracies in the interpretation of BH high-energy spectra and for constructing better prescriptions of BH accretion for use in various local and cosmological feedback applications.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Astrophysical Journal Letters
Markoff, S., Nowak, M., Gallo, E., Hynes, R., Wilms, J., Plotkin, R., Maitra, D., Silva, C., & Drappeau, S. (2015). AS ABOVE, so BELOW: EXPLOITING MASS SCALING in BLACK HOLE ACCRETION to BREAK DEGENERACIES in SPECTRAL INTERPRETATION. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 812 (2) https://doi.org/10.1088/2041-8205/812/2/L25