Sera Markoff - University Amsterdam

Sera Markoff
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Sera Markoff
University Amsterdam

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (41)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (14)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (8)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (4)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (2)
Astrophysics (2)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (1)
High Energy Physics - Theory (1)

Publications Authored By Sera Markoff

Understanding the origin of the flaring activity from the Galactic center supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, is a major scientific goal of the NuSTAR Galactic plane survey campaign. We report on the data obtained between July 2012 and April 2015, including 27 observations on Sgr A* with a total exposure of ~ 1 Ms. We found a total of ten X-ray flares detected in the NuSTAR observation window, with luminosities in the range of $L_{3-79~keV}$~$(0. Read More

We have compiled a new multiwavelength spectral energy distribution (SED) for the closest obscured low-ionization emission-line region active galactic nucleus (AGN), NGC 4736, also known as M94. The SED comprises mainly high-resolution (mostly sub-arcsecond, or, at the distance to M94, <23 pc from the nucleus) observations from the literature, archival data, as well as previously unpublished sub-millimetre data from the Plateau de Bure Interferometer (PdBI) and the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy, in conjunction with new electronic MultiElement Radio Interferometric Network (e-MERLIN) L-band (1.5 GHz) observations. Read More

We model the accretion of gas on to a population of massive primordial black holes in the Milky Way, and compare the predicted radio and X-ray emission with observational data. We show that under conservative assumptions on the accretion process, the possibility that ${\cal O}(10) \, M_\odot$ primordial black holes can account for all of the dark matter in the Milky Way is excluded at $4\sigma$ by a comparison with the VLA radio catalog at 1.4 GHz, and at more than $5\sigma$ by a comparison with the NuSTAR X-ray catalog (10 - 40 keV). Read More

Affiliations: 1IAR, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2NWU, Potchefstroom, South Africa, 3University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 4INAF, Merate, Italy

Collimated outflows (jets) appear to be a ubiquitous phenomenon associated with the accretion of material onto a compact object. Despite this ubiquity, many fundamental physics aspects of jets are still poorly understood and constrained. These include the mechanism of launching and accelerating jets, the connection between these processes and the nature of the accretion flow, and the role of magnetic fields; the physics responsible for the collimation of jets over tens of thousands to even millions of gravitational radii of the central accreting object; the matter content of jets; the location of the region(s) accelerating particles to TeV (possibly even PeV and EeV) energies (as evidenced by gamma-ray emission observed from many jet sources) and the physical processes responsible for this particle acceleration; the radiative processes giving rise to the observed multi-wavelength emission; and the topology of magnetic fields and their role in the jet collimation and particle acceleration processes. Read More

Radio observations of young stellar objects (YSOs) enable the study of ionised plasma outflows from young protostars via their free-free radiation. Previous studies of the low-mass young system T Tau have used radio observations to model the spectrum and estimate important physical properties of the associated ionised plasma (local electron density, ionised gas content and emission measure). However, without an indication of the low-frequency turnover in the free-free spectrum, these properties remain difficult to constrain. Read More

The supermassive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy flares at least daily in the infrared (IR) and X-ray bands, yet the process driving these flares is still unknown. So far detailed analysis has only been performed on a few bright flares. In particular, the broadband spectral modelling suffers from a strong lack of simultaneous data. Read More

Within the first 10 days after Swift discovered the jetted tidal disruption event (TDE) Sw J1644+57, simultaneous observations in the radio, near-infrared, optical, X-ray and gamma-ray bands were carried out. These multiwavelength data provide a unique opportunity to constrain the emission mechanism and make-up of a relativistic super-Eddington jet. We consider an exhaustive variety of radiation mechanisms for the generation of X-rays in this TDE, and rule out many processes such as SSC, photospheric and proton synchrotron. Read More

We present coordinated multiwavelength observations of the high Galactic latitude (b=+50 deg) black hole X-ray binary (XRB) J1357.2-0933 in quiescence. Our broadband spectrum includes strictly simultaneous radio and X-ray observations, and near-infrared, optical, and ultraviolet data taken 1-2 days later. Read More

Over the last decade, the evidence is mounting that several aspects of black hole accretion physics proceed in a mass-invariant way. One of the best examples of this scaling is the empirical "Fundamental Plane of Black Hole Accretion" relation linking mass, radio and X-ray luminosity over eight orders of magnitude in black hole mass. The currently favored theoretical interpretation of this relation is that the physics governing power output in weakly accreting black holes depends more on relative accretion rate than on mass. Read More

Affiliations: 1for the CTA Consortium, 2for the CTA Consortium, 3for the CTA Consortium, 4for the CTA Consortium, 5for the CTA Consortium, 6for the CTA Consortium, 7for the CTA Consortium, 8for the CTA Consortium

The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the new generation very high-energy gamma-ray observatory, will improve the flux sensitivity of the current Cherenkov telescopes by an order of magnitude over a continuous range from about 10 GeV to above 100 TeV. With tens of telescopes distributed in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, the large effective area and field of view coupled with the fast pointing capability make CTA a crucial instrument for the detection and understanding of the physics of transient, short-timescale variability phenomena (e.g. Read More

The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) observatory will be one of the largest ground-based very high-energy gamma-ray observatories. The On-Site Analysis will be the first CTA scientific analysis of data acquired from the array of telescopes, in both northern and southern sites. The On-Site Analysis will have two pipelines: the Level-A pipeline (also known as Real-Time Analysis, RTA) and the level-B one. Read More

We analyze the light curves of 413 radio sources at submillimeter wavelengths using data from the Submillimeter Array calibrator database. The database includes more than 20,000 observations at 1.3 and 0. Read More

We present a new way of describing the flares from Sgr A* with a self-consistent calculation of the particle distribution. All relevant radiative processes are taken into account in the evolution of the electron distribution and resulting spectrum. We present spectral modelling for new X-ray flares observed by NuSTAR, together with older observations in different wavelengths, and discuss the changes in plasma parameters to produce a flare. Read More

We report new observations with the Very Large Array, Atacama Large Millimeter Array, and Submillimeter Array at frequencies from 1.0 to 355 GHz of the Galactic Center black hole, Sagittarius A*. These observations were conducted between October 2012 and November 2014. Read More

Radio and mm-wavelength observations of Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the radio source associated with the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, show that it behaves as a partially self-absorbed synchrotron-emitting source. The measured size of Sgr A* shows that the mm-wavelength emission comes from a small region and consists of the inner accretion flow and a possible collimated outflow. Existing observations of Sgr A* have revealed a time lag between light curves at 43 GHz and 22 GHz, which is consistent with a rapidly expanding plasma flow and supports the presence of a collimated outflow from the environment of an accreting black hole. Read More

The nature of black hole jets at the lowest detectable luminosities remains an open question, largely due to a dearth of observational constraints. Here, we present a new, nearly-simultaneous broadband spectrum of the black hole X-ray binary (BHXB) XTE J1118+480 at an extremely low Eddington ratio (L_x~1e-8.5 L_Edd). Read More

We report the detection of the two-dimensional structure of the radio source associated with the Galactic Center black hole, Sagittarius A*, obtained from Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observations at a wavelength of 7mm. The intrinsic source is modeled as an elliptical Gaussian with major axis size 35.4 x 12. Read More

Magnetically arrested accretion discs (MADs), where the magnetic pressure in the inner disc is dynamically important, provide an alternative mechanism for regulating accretion to what is commonly assumed in black hole systems. We show that a global magnetic field inversion in the MAD state can destroy the jet, significantly increase the accretion rate, and move the effective inner disc edge in to the marginally stable orbit. Reconnection of the MAD field in the inner radii launches a new type of transient outflow containing hot plasma generated by magnetic dissipation. Read More

We present a new, semi-analytic formalism to model the acceleration and collimation of relativistic jets in a gravitational potential. The gravitational energy density includes the kinetic, thermal, and electromagnetic mass contributions. The solutions are close to self-similar throughout the integration, from very close to the black hole to the region where gravity is unimportant. Read More

Various radio galaxies show signs of having gone through episodic jet outbursts in the past. An example is the class of double-double radio galaxies (DDRGs). However, to follow the evolution of an individual source in real-time is impossible due to the large time scales involved. Read More

The center of our Galaxy hosts the best constrained supermassive black hole in the universe, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). Its mass and distance have been accurately determined from stellar orbits and proper motion studies, respectively, and its high-frequency radio, and highly variable near-infrared and X-ray emission originate from within a few Schwarzschild radii of the event horizon. The theory of general relativity (GR) predicts the appearance of a black hole shadow, which is a lensed image of the event horizon. Read More

We outline the science prospects for gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) with the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the next-generation ground-based gamma-ray observatory operating at energies above few tens of GeV. With its low energy threshold, large effective area and rapid slewing capabilities, CTA will be able to measure the spectra and variability of GRBs at multi-GeV energies with unprecedented photon statistics, and thereby break new ground in elucidating the physics of GRBs, which is still poorly understood. Such measurements will also provide crucial diagnostics of ultra-high-energy cosmic ray and neutrino production in GRBs, advance observational cosmology by probing the high-redshift extragalactic background light and intergalactic magnetic fields, and contribute to fundamental physics by testing Lorentz invariance violation with high precision. Read More

A subset of ultraluminous X-ray sources (those with luminosities < 10^40 erg/s) are thought to be powered by the accretion of gas onto black holes with masses of ~5-20 M_solar, probably via an accretion disc. The X-ray and radio emission are coupled in such Galactic sources, with the radio emission originating in a relativistic jet thought to be launched from the innermost regions near the black hole, with the most powerful emission occurring when the rate of infalling matter approaches a theoretical maximum (the Eddington limit). Only four such maximal sources are known in the Milky Way, and the absorption of soft X-rays in the interstellar medium precludes determining the causal sequence of events that leads to the ejection of the jet. Read More

A few binary systems display High Energy (100 MeV - 100 GeV) and/or Very High Energy (> 100 GeV) gamma-ray emission. These systems also display non-thermal radio emission that can be resolved with long-baseline radio interferometers, revealing the presence of outflows. It is expected that at very low frequencies the synchrotron radio emission covers larger angular scales than has been reported up to now. Read More

We present a new, approximate method for modelling the acceleration and collimation of relativistic jets in the presence of gravity. This method is self-similar throughout the computational domain where gravitational effects are negligible and, where significant, self-similar within a flux tube. These solutions are applicable to jets launched from a small region (e. Read More

We present the first spectral energy distributions produced self-consistently by 2.5D general relativistic magneto-hydrodynamical (GRMHD) numerical simulations, where radiative cooling is included in the dynamical calculation. As a case study, we focus on the accretion flow around the supermassive black hole in the Galactic Centre, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), which has the best constrained physical parameters. Read More

The Arcminute Microkelvin Imager (AMI) is a telescope specifically designed for high sensitivity measurements of low-surface-brightness features at cm-wavelength and has unique, important capabilities. It consists of two interferometer arrays operating over 13.5-18 GHz that image structures on scales of 0. Read More

We present general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) numerical simulations of the accretion flow around the supermassive black hole in the Galactic centre, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). The simulations include for the first time radiative cooling processes (synchrotron, bremsstrahlung, and inverse Compton) self-consistently in the dynamics, allowing us to test the common simplification of ignoring all cooling losses in the modeling of Sgr A*. We confirm that for Sgr A*, neglecting the cooling losses is a reasonable approximation if the Galactic centre is accreting below ~10^{-8} Msun/yr i. Read More

We present Chandra observations of 12 galaxies that contain supermassive black holes with dynamical mass measurements. Each galaxy was observed for 30 ksec and resulted in a total of 68 point source detections in the target galaxies including supermassive black hole sources, ultraluminous X-ray sources, and extragalactic X-ray binaries. Based on our fits of the X-ray spectra, we report fluxes, luminosities, Eddington ratios, and slope of the power-law spectrum. Read More

We use data from the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) to perform a statistical study on the mid-infrared (IR) properties of a large number ($\sim10^2$) of BL Lac objects --- low-luminosity Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) with a jet beamed toward the Earth. As expected, many BL Lac objects are so highly beamed that their jet synchrotron emission dominates their IR spectral energy distributions. In other BL Lac objects, however, the jet is not strong enough to completely dilute the rest of the AGN emission. Read More

It is theoretically expected that a supermassive black hole (SMBH) in the centre of a typical nearby galaxy disrupts a Solar-type star every ~ 10^5 years, resulting in a bright flare lasting for months. Sgr A*, the resident SMBH of the Milky Way, produces (by comparison) tiny flares that last only hours but occur daily. Here we explore the possibility that these flares could be produced by disruption of smaller bodies - asteroids. Read More

We present the analysis of two long, quasi-uninterrupted RXTE observations of Cygnus X-1 that span several days within a 10 d interval. The spectral characteristics during this observation cover the region where previous observations have shown the source to be most dynamic. Despite that the source behavior on time scales of hours and days is remarkably similar to that on year time scales. Read More

We review the spectral properties of the black hole candidate Cygnus X-1. Specifically, we discuss two recent sets of multi-satellite observations. One comprises a 0. Read More

While the non-thermal radio through at least near-infrared emission in the hard state in X-ray binaries (XRBs) is known to originate in jets, the source of the non-thermal X-ray component is still uncertain. We introduce a new model for this emission, which takes into account the transient nature of outflows, and show that it can explain the observed properties of the X-ray spectrum. Rapid radiative cooling of the electrons naturally accounts for the break often seen below around 10 keV, and for the canonical spectral slope F_\nu ~ \nu^{-1/2} observed below the break. Read More

The fundamental plane of black hole activity is a relation between X-ray luminosity, radio luminosity, and black hole mass for hard state Galactic black holes and their supermassive analogs. The fundamental plane suggests that, at low-accretion rates, the physical processes regulating the conversion of an accretion flow into radiative energy could be universal across the entire black hole mass scale. However, there is still a need to further refine the fundamental plane in order to better discern the radiative processes and their geometry very close to the black hole, in particular the source of hard X-rays. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Michigan, 2University of Michigan, 3University of Amsterdam, 4University of Michigan

Recent radio VLBI observations of the ~parsec-scale nuclear region of the narrow line Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 4051 hint toward the presence of outflowing plasma. From available literature we have collected high-quality, high-resolution broadband spectral energy distribution data of the nuclear region of NGC 4051 spanning from radio through X-rays, to test whether the broadband SED can be explained within the framework of a relativistically outflowing jet model. We show that once the contribution from the host galaxy is taken into account, the broadband emission from the active galactic nucleus of NGC 4051 can be well described by the jet model. Read More

Using Suzaku and the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, we have conducted a series of four simultaneous observations of the galactic black hole candidate Cyg X-1 in what were historically faint and spectrally hard low states. Additionally, all of these observations occurred near superior conjunction with our line of sight to the X-ray source passing through the dense phases of the focused wind from the mass donating secondary. One of our observations was also simultaneous with observations by the Chandra-High Energy Transmission Grating. Read More

Affiliations: 1U. Amsterdam, 2U. Amsterdam, 3Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, U. Groningen, 4U. Washington

We measure black hole masses for 71 BL Lac objects from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with redshifts out to z~0.4. We perform spectral decompositions of their nuclei from their host galaxies and measure their stellar velocity dispersions. Read More

We report on the results of a simultaneous monitoring campaign employing eight Chandra X-ray (0.5-10 keV) and six VLA/EVLA (8.4 GHz) radio observations of NGC 4051 over seven months. Read More

Affiliations: 1Department of Astrophysics, IMAPP, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 2Astronomical Institute "Anton Pannekoek'', University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 3Astronomy Department & Radio Astronomy Lab, UC Berkeley, USA, 4Department of Physics, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA, 5Department of Physics, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA, 6Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

In this paper we review and discuss some of the intriguing properties of the Galactic Center supermassive black hole candidate Sgr A*. Of all possible black hole sources, the event horizon of Sgr A*, subtends the largest angular scale on the sky. It is therefore a prime candidate to study and image plasma processes in strong gravity and it even allows imaging of the shadow cast by the event horizon. Read More

Affiliations: 1U. Michigan, 2Yale U, 3U. Amsterdam, 4Radboud U. Nijmegen, 5U. Michigan, 6Yale U

We present results of recent observations and theoretical modeling of data from black holes accreting at very low luminosities (L/L_Edd ~ 10^{-8}). We discuss our newly developed time-dependent model for episodic ejection of relativistic plasma within a jet framework, and a successful application of this model to describe the origin of radio flares seen in Sgr A*, the Galactic center black hole. Both the observed time lags and size-frequency relationships are reproduced well by the model. Read More

Affiliations: 1ICRAR/Curtin, 2U. Virginia, 3U. Amsterdam, 4U. Paris Diderot, 5NASA/GSFC, 6U. Michigan, 7MIT, 8U. Amsterdam, 9ASTRON, 10NRAO, 11U. Southampton, 12U. Wisconsin-Madison, 13U. Amsterdam, 14ESAC, 15NRAO, 16U. Virginia

Relationships between the X-ray and radio behavior of black hole X-ray binaries during outbursts have established a fundamental coupling between the accretion disks and radio jets in these systems. We begin by reviewing the prevailing paradigm for this disk-jet coupling, also highlighting what we know about similarities and differences with neutron star and white dwarf binaries. Until recently, this paradigm had not been directly tested with dedicated high-angular resolution radio imaging over entire outbursts. Read More

Observations of relativistic jets from black holes systems suggest that particle acceleration often occurs at fixed locations within the flow. These sites could be associated with critical points that allow the formation of standing shock regions, such as the magnetosonic modified fast point. Using the self-similar formulation of special relativistic magnetohydrodynamics by Vlahakis & K\"onigl, we derive a new class of flow solutions that are both relativistic and cross the modified fast point at a finite height. Read More

GRS1915+105 is a very peculiar black hole binary that exhibits accretion-related states that are not observed in any other stellar-mass black hole system. One of these states, however -- referred to as the plateau state -- may be related to the canonical hard state of black hole X-ray binaries. Both the plateau and hard state are associated with steady, relatively lower X-ray emission and flat/inverted radio emission, that is sometimes resolved into compact, self-absorbed jets. Read More

Affiliations: 1Univ. of Amsterdam, 2Univ. of Amsterdam, 3Radboud University, Nijmegen

The source of emission from Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the Galactic Center, is still unknown. Flares and data from multiwavelength campaigns provide important clues about the nature of Sgr A* itself. Here we attempt to constrain the physical origin of the broadband emission and the radio flares from Sgr A*. Read More

Affiliations: 1Dept. of Astronomy, University of Michigan, 2Dept. of Astronomy, University of Michigan, 3Dept. of Astronomy, University of Michigan, 4McWilliams Center for Cosmology, Physics Deparment, Carnegie Mellon University, 5A. Pannekoek, University of Amsterdam, NL, 6Dept. of Astronomy, University of Michigan

Black hole accretion and jet production are areas of intensive study in astrophysics. Recent work has found a relation between radio luminosity, X-ray luminosity, and black hole mass. With the assumption that radio and X-ray luminosity are suitable proxies for jet power and accretion power, respectively, a broad fundamental connection between accretion and jet production is implied. Read More

Affiliations: 1NOAO, 2Columbia Univ, 3LCOGT, 4UC, Berkeley, 5Harvard CfA, 6UC, Berkeley, 7Chicago State Univ., 8Univ. of Nottingham, 9Caltech, 10Griffith Obs., 11Univ of Wisconsin, Madison, 12Rutgers Univ., 13NYU, 14Univ. of Florida, 15Univ. of Denver, 16Univ. of Michigan, 17Univ. of Hawaii, 18NCAR, 19UNC, 20UC, Irvine, 21UC, Santa Cruz, 22San Diego State Univ., 23Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, 24Univ. of Amsterdam, 25OCIW, 26Caltech, 27Lehigh University, 28Indiana Univ., 29UC, Irvine, 30CTIO, 31Columbia Univ., 32Texas A&M

The NSF's Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship (AAPF) is exceptional among the available postdoctoral awards in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The fellowship is one of the few that allows postdoctoral researchers to pursue an original research program, of their own design, at the U.S. Read More

Affiliations: 1Dep. Astronomy, IMAP, Radboud University Nijmegen, 2Anton Pannekoek Institute, University of Amsterdam, 3Radio Astronomy Lab, UC Berkeley

The black hole at the Galactic Center, Sgr A*, is the prototype of a galactic nucleus at a very low level of activity. Its radio through submm-wave emission is known to come from a region close to the event horizon, however, the source of the emission is still under debate. A successful theory explaining the emission is based on a relativistic jet model scaled down from powerful quasars. Read More

Authors: Sera Markoff1
Affiliations: 1Astronomical Institute "Anton Pannekoek", University of Amsterdam
Category: Astrophysics

Infrared interferometry is currently in a rapid development phase, with new instrumentation soon achieving milliarcsecond spatial resolutions for faint sources and astrometry on the order of 10 microarcseconds. For jet studies in particular, the next generation of instruments will bring us closer to the event horizon of supermassive black holes such as Sgr A*, and the region where jet launching must occur. But a new possibility to study microquasars in general and jet physics in particular may also arise, using techniques similar to those employed for finding faint exoplanets around stars. Read More

In 2005 February we observed Cygnus X-1 over a period of 10 days quasi-continuously with the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and the Ryle telescope. We present the results of the spectral and timing analysis on a timescale of 90 min and show that the behavior of Cyg X-1 is similar to that found during our years long monitoring campaign. As a highlight we present evidence for a full transition from the hard to the soft state that happened during less than three hours. Read More