Department of Astronomy & Physics
Post-doctoral Fellow Dan Wilkins, working with Professor Luigi Gallo, from the Department of Astronomy and Physics and Saint Mary's University, interpreted X-ray observations obtained from NASA's Swift and Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescopic Array as evidence for the Lamppost Model that describes the topology of material around a blackhole that leads to flares. The data suggest that the corona "surrounding" the blackhole first shrunk around the blackhole and then, through some mechanism that is not understood at this time, shot away from the blackhole in a beam-like jet. The base of the jet then appears to collapse again around the blackhole. Their analysis of the observed flare links, for the first time, the behaviour and configuration of the corona and the jet.
Their results, [D.R. Wilkins, L. C. Gallo, D. Grupe (Space Science Center, KY) , Bonson (Ph.D. student, SMU Astronomy and Physics), S. Komossa (Max-Planck-Institut fur Radioastronomie, Bonn), and A.C. Fabian (Cambridge)] will appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (arXiv e-print). Click here to link to NASA's website where the important discovery is described in more detail.