EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 456, Number 2, September III 2006
Page(s) 439 - 450
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20054144

A&A 456, 439-450 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20054144

Refining the fundamental plane of accreting black holes

E. Körding1, 2, H. Falcke3, 4 and S. Corbel1

1  AIM - Unité Mixte de Recherche CEA - CNRS - Université Paris VII - UMR 7158, CEA-Saclay, Service d'Astrophysique, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
2  School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton, Hampshire SO17 1BJ, UK
    e-mail: elmar@phys.soton.ac.uk
3  Radio Observatory, ASTRON, Dwingeloo, PO Box 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
4  Dept. of Astronomy, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Postbus 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands

(Received 2 September 2005 / Accepted 22 February 2006 )

Context.The idea of a unified description of supermassive and stellar black holes has been supported by the extension of the empirical radio/X-ray correlation from X-ray binaries to active galactic nuclei through the inclusion of a mass term. This has lead to the so-called fundamental plane of black hole activity in the black hole mass, radio and X-ray luminosity space. Two incarnations of this fundamental plane have so far been suggested using different underlying models and using two different samples of accreting black holes.
Aims.We improve the parameter estimates of the fundamental plane and estimate the scatter of the sources around the plane in both samples. This is used to look for possible constraints on the proposed theoretical models. Furthermore, we search for selection effects due to the inclusion of different classes of AGN or distance effects.
Methods.We present revised samples for both studies together with a refined statistical analysis using measured errors of the observables. This method is used to compare the two samples and infer parameters for the fundamental plane in a homogeneous way.
Results.We show that strongly sub-Eddington objects in a state equivalent to the low/hard state of X-ray binaries follow the fundamental plane very tightly; the scatter is comparable to the measurement errors. However, we find that the estimated parameters depend strongly on the assumptions made on the sources of scatter and the relative weight of the different AGN classes in the sample. Using only hard state objects, the fundamental plane is in agreement with the prediction of a simple uncooled synchrotron/jet model for the emitted radiation. Inclusion of high-state objects increases the scatter and moves the correlation closer to a disk/jet model. This is qualitatively consistent with a picture where low-state objects are largely dominated by jet emission while high-state objects have a strong contribution from an accretion disk.

Key words: X-rays: binaries -- galaxies: active -- radiation mechanisms: non-thermal -- stars: winds, outflows -- black hole physics -- accretion, accretion disks

© ESO 2006

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