Predicting the broad-lines polarization emitted by supermassive binary black holes
Astronomical Observatory Belgrade, Volgina 7, 11060 Belgrade, Serbia
2 Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg, UMR 7550, 11 rue de l’Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
3 Department of Astronomy, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Belgrade, Studentski trg 16, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Accepted: 16 December 2018
Context. Some Type-1 active galactic nuclei (AGN) show extremely asymmetric Balmer lines with the broad peak redshifted or blueshifted by thousands of km s−1. These AGN may be good candidates for supermassive binary black holes (SMBBHs). The complex line shapes can be due to the complex kinematics of the two broad line regions (BLRs). Therefore other methods should be applied to confirm the SMBBHs. One of them is spectropolarimetry.
Aims. We rely on numerical modeling of the polarimetry of binary black holes systems, since polarimetry is highly sensitive to geometry, in order to find the specific influence of supermassive binary black hole (SMBBH) geometry and dynamics on polarized parameters across the broad line profiles. We apply our method to SMBBHs in which both components are assumed to be AGN with distances at the subparsec scale.
Methods. We used a Monte Carlo radiative transfer code that simulates the geometry, dynamics, and emission pattern of a binary system where two black holes are getting increasingly close. Each gravitational well is accompanied by its own BLR and the whole system is surrounded by an accretion flow from the distant torus. We examined the emission line deformation and predicted the associated polarization that could be observed.
Results. We modeled scattering-induced broad line polarization for various BLR geometries with complex kinematics. We find that the presence of SMBBHs can produce complex polarization angle profiles φ and strongly affect the polarized and unpolarized line profiles. Depending on the phase of the SMBBH, the resulting double-peaked emission lines either show red or blue peak dominance, or both the peaks can have the same intensity. In some cases, the whole line profile appears as a single Gaussian line, hiding the true nature of the source.
Conclusions. Our results suggest that future observation with the high resolution spectropolarimetry of optical broad emission lines could play an important role in detecting subparsec SMBBHs.
Key words: galaxies: active / black hole physics / polarization / scattering
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