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Interpreting the Results

Now that you have a good fit of the data, you need to step back and figure out what those results mean. Recall that your goal was to characterize the accretion in the black hole. By finding an absorption line, you can figure out at least one element that is near the black hole. The line that you saw was from iron, Fe+25.

Go back to your prediction from the beginning of this investigation. Did you predict that if you found a line that it would be redshifted (moving away from you, and into the black hole) or it would be blueshifted (moving toward you, away from the black hole)?

To test your prediction, you will need the energy of the line from your model. This can be found in the Xspec command window – look for the current value of LineE. If you need help finding this value, go back to the "Modeling the Spectrum" page to see how to read the summary of the model. Write this down as the "shifted" energy of the line, Eshift.

The second piece of information you need is the energy of this line if the source is stationary relative to the observer (you). This is Estationary = 6.97 keV.

If the energy of the observed light (Eshift) is higher than the energy of the emitted light (Estationary), then the light is blueshifted, and the matter is moving toward the observer (you). Conversely, if the energy of the observed light (Eshift) is lower than the energy of the emitted light (Estationary), then the light is redshifted, and the matter is moving toward the observer (you). Is the line you observed redshifted or blueshifted (or neither)?

Finally, you can calculate the velocity of the matter that absorbed the light using the formula for the Doppler effect. Usually, the formula looks like this:

The doppler formula solved for velocity

In that equation, the v is velocity of the matter that absorbed the light, and c is the speed of light.

You can rearrange and solve for the velocity, so the formula looks like this:

The doppler formula solved for velocity

Using your values for Eshift and Estationary, and the fact that the "c" in the formula is the speed of light (equal to 300,000 km/s), find the velocity (in km/s) of the material responsible for the iron absorption line seen in your data.

Answer the following questions

  • What energy (LineE) did you measure for the absorption line?
  • Is the shifted value more or less than the stationary value?
  • Is the line you observed redshifted or blueshifted?
  • What value do you get for the velocity of the matter emitting the iron line (show your work)?
  • Is the source of the absorption line moving toward or away from you?
  • Is the source of the absorption line moving toward or away from the black hole?
  • Is this what you originally predicted?

If words seem to be missing from the articles, please read this.

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This page last updated: Thursday, 25-Mar-2010 08:54:55 EDT