Shane Davis - CITA

Shane Davis
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Shane Davis

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (21)
Astrophysics (13)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (6)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (5)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (4)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (4)
High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (2)
High Energy Physics - Theory (1)
Physics - Plasma Physics (1)
Physics - Computational Physics (1)

Publications Authored By Shane Davis

We study dusty winds driven by radiation pressure in the atmosphere of a rapidly star-forming environment. We apply the variable Eddington tensor algorithm to re-examine the two-dimensional radiation hydrodynamic problem of a column of gas that is accelerated by a constant infrared radiation flux. In the absence of gravity, the system is primarily characterized by the initial optical depth of the gas. Read More

M82 X-1 is one of the brightest ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) known, which, assuming Eddington-limited accretion and other considerations, makes it one of the best intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) candidates. However, the ULX may still be explained by super-Eddington accretion onto a stellar-remnant black hole. We present simultaneous NuSTAR, Chandra and Swift/XRT observations during the peak of a flaring episode with the aim of modeling the emission of M82 X-1 and yielding insights into its nature. Read More

Accretion disks around supermassive black holes have regions where the Rosseland mean opacity can be much larger than the electron scattering opacity primarily due to the large number of bound-bound transitions in iron. We study the effects of this iron opacity "bump" on the thermal stability and vertical structure of radiation pressure dominated accretion disks, utilizing three dimensional radiation magneto-hydrodynamic simulations in the local shearing box approximation. The simulations self-consistently calculate the heating due to MHD turbulence caused by magneto-rotational instability and radiative cooling by using the radiative transfer module based on a variable Eddington tensor in Athena. Read More

Affiliations: 1Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 3California Institute of Technology, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 4Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 5Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 6Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 7Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 8Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 9Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 10Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, 11California Institute of Technology, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 12California Institute of Technology, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 13Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 14Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 15Rice University, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 16Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 17Georgia College, Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Astronomy, 18Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 19Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 20North-West University, Centre for Space Research, 21Technical University of Denmark, DTU Space, National Space Institute, 22Yale University, Department of Astronomy, 23Washington University in Saint Louis, Physics Department and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, 24University of Virginia, Department of Astronomy, 25MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics Garching, 26Durham University, Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, Department of Physics, 27Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 28North Carolina State University, Department of Physics, 29Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 30Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy, UK, 31Penn State University, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 32Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 33University of California, Berkeley, Department of Physics, 34ASI Science Data Center, Italy, 35California Institute of Technology, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 36Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy, UK, 37Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 38Purdue University, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 39Texas Tech University, Physics Department, 40Nagoya University, Center for Experimental Studies, Kobayashi-Maskawa Institute for the Origin of Particles and the Universe, 41University of Maryland, Physics Department, 42RIKEN, 43Univ. of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Astronomy Dept, 44Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 45Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, INAF, 46Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, 47Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 48Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 49Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, 50NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 51Tohoku University, Astronomical Institute, 52NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

This paper describes the Polarization Spectroscopic Telescope Array (PolSTAR), a mission proposed to NASA's 2014 Small Explorer (SMEX) announcement of opportunity. PolSTAR measures the linear polarization of 3-50 keV (requirement; goal: 2.5-70 keV) X-rays probing the behavior of matter, radiation and the very fabric of spacetime under the extreme conditions close to the event horizons of black holes, as well as in and around magnetars and neutron stars. Read More

We study super-Eddington accretion flows onto black holes using a global three dimensional radiation magneto-hydrodynamical simulation. We solve the time dependent radiative transfer equation for the specific intensities to accurately calculate the angular distribution of the emitted radiation. Turbulence generated by the magneto-rotational instability provides self-consistent angular momentum transfer. Read More

(Abridged) We describe a new algorithm for solving the coupled frequency-integrated transfer equation and the equations of magnetohydrodynamics when the light-crossing time is only marginally shorter than dynamical timescales. The transfer equation is solved in the mixed frame, including velocity dependent source terms accurate to O(v/c). An operator split approach is used to compute the specific intensity along discrete rays, with upwind monotonic interpolation used along each ray to update the transport terms, and implicit methods used to compute the scattering and absorption source terms. Read More

We use our variable Eddington tensor (VET) radiation hydrodynamics code to perform two-dimensional simulations to study the impact of radiation forces on atmospheres composed of dust and gas. Our setup closely follows that of Krumholz & Thompson, assuming that dust and gas are well-coupled and that the radiation field is characterized by blackbodies with temperatures >~ 80 K, as might be found in ultraluminous infrared galaxies. In agreement with previous work, we find that Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities develop in radiation supported atmospheres, leading to inhomogeneities that limit momentum exchange between radiation and dusty gas, and eventually providing a near balance of the radiation and gravitational forces. Read More

A new mechanism to form a magnetic pressure supported, high temperature corona above the photosphere of an accretion disk is explored using three dimensional radiation magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) simulations. The thermal properties of the disk are calculated self-consistently by balancing radiative cooling through the surfaces of the disk with heating due to dissipation of turbulence driven by magneto-rotational instability (MRI). As has been noted in previous work, we find the dissipation rate per unit mass increases dramatically with height above the mid-plane, in stark contrast to the alpha-disk model which assumes this quantity is a constant. Read More

AGN SEDs generally show a turnover at lambda 1000A, implying a maximal accretion disc (AD) temperature of T_max~50,000K. Massive O stars display a similar T_max, associated with a sharp rise in a line driven mass loss Mdot_wind with increasing surface temperature. AGN AD are also characterized by similar surface gravity to massive O stars. Read More

We report on the first phase of our study of cloud irradiation. We study irradiation by means of numerical, two-dimensional time-dependent radiation-hydrodynamic simulations of a cloud irradiated by a strong radiation. We adopt a very simple treatment of the opacity, neglect photoionization and gravity, and instead focus on assessing the role of the type and magnitude of the opacity on the cloud evolution. Read More

We study the long-term thermal stability of radiation dominated disks in which the vertical structure is determined self-consistently by the balance of heating due to dissipation of MHD turbulence driven by the magneto-rotational instability (MRI), and cooling due to radiation emitted at the photosphere. The calculations adopt the local shearing box approximation, and utilize the recently developed radiation transfer module in the Athena MHD code based on a variable Eddington tensor rather than an assumed local closure. After saturation of the MRI, in many cases the disk maintains a steady vertical structure for many thermal times. Read More

Accretion discs are present around both stellar-mass black holes in X-ray binaries and supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei. A wide variety of circumstantial evidence implies that many of these discs are warped. The standard Bardeen--Petterson model attributes the shape of the warp to the competition between Lense--Thirring torque from the central black hole and viscous angular-momentum transport within the disc. Read More

The saturation level of the magneto-rotational instability (MRI) in a strongly radiation dominated accretion disk is studied using a new Godunov radiation MHD code in the unstratified shearing box approximation. Since vertical gravity is neglected in this work, our focus is on how the MRI saturates in the optically thick mid-plane of the disk. We confirm that turbulence generated by the MRI is very compressible in the radiation dominated regime, as found by previous calculations using the flux-limited diffusion approximation. Read More

The non-linear regime of Rayleigh-Taylor instability (RTI) in a radiation supported atmosphere, consisting of two uniform fluids with different densities, is studied numerically. We perform simulations using our recently developed numerical algorithm for multi-dimensional radiation hydrodynamics based on a variable Eddington tensor as implemented in Athena, focusing on the regime where scattering opacity greatly exceeds absorption opacity. We find that the radiation field can reduce the growth and mixing rate of RTI, but this reduction is only significant when radiation pressure significantly exceeds gas pressure. Read More

It is generally thought that the light coming from the inner plunging region of black hole accretion discs contributes negligibly to the disc's overall spectrum, i.e. the plunging fluid is swallowed by the black hole before it has time to radiate. Read More

We describe the implementation of a module for the Athena magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) code which solves the time-independent, multi-frequency radiative transfer (RT) equation on multidimensional Cartesian simulation domains, including scattering and non-LTE effects. The module is based on well-known and well-tested algorithms developed for modeling stellar atmospheres, including the method of short characteristics to solve the RT equation, accelerated Lambda iteration to handle scattering and non-LTE effects, and parallelization via domain decomposition. The module serves several purposes: it can be used to generate spectra and images, to compute a variable Eddington tensor (VET) for full radiation MHD simulations, and to calculate the heating and cooling source terms in the MHD equations in flows where radiation pressure is small compared with gas pressure. Read More

We describe a numerical algorithm to integrate the equations of radiation magnetohydrodynamics in multidimensions using Godunov methods. This algorithm solves the radiation moment equations in the mixed frame, without invoking any diffusion-like approximations. The moment equations are closed using a variable Eddington tensor whose components are calculated from a formal solution of the transfer equation at a large number of angles using the method of short characteristics. Read More

A recent study of the accretion efficiency of the PG sample AGN, based on the thin accretion disk emission model, finds the accretion radiative efficiency is correlated with the black hole mass (eta Mbh^0.5). A followup study suggests the correlation is an artifact induced by selection effects. Read More

(Abridged) Narrow Line Seyfert 1 (NLS1) galaxies have low mass black holes and mass accretion rates close to (or exceeding) Eddington, so a standard blackbody accretion disc should peak in the EUV. However, the lack of true absorption opacity in the disc means that the emission is better approximated by a colour temperature corrected blackbody, and this colour temperature correction is large enough ($\sim 2.4$) that the bare disc emission from a zero spin black hole can extend into the soft X-ray bandpass. Read More

The optical-UV continuum of quasars is broadly consistent with the emission from a geometrically thin optically thick accretion disk (AD). The AD produces the ionizing continuum which powers the broad and narrow emission lines. The maximum AD effective temperature is given by Teff=fmax(Mdot/M^2)^1/4, where M is the black hole mass, Mdot the accretion rate, and fmax is set by the black hole spin a_*. Read More

The compact primary in the X-ray binary Cygnus X-1 was the first black hole to be established via dynamical observations. We have recently determined accurate values for its mass and distance, and for the orbital inclination angle of the binary. Building on these results, which are based on our favored (asynchronous) dynamical model, we have measured the radius of the inner edge of the black hole's accretion disk by fitting its thermal continuum spectrum to a fully relativistic model of a thin accretion disk. Read More

With an inferred bolometric luminosity exceeding 10^42 erg/s, HLX-1 in ESO 243-49 is the most luminous of ultraluminous X-ray sources and provides one of the strongest cases for the existence of intermediate mass black holes. We obtain good fits to disk-dominated observations of the source with BHSPEC, a fully relativistic black hole accretion disk spectral model. Due to degeneracies in the model arising from the lack of independent constraints on inclination and black hole spin, there is a factor of 100 uncertainty in the best-fit black hole mass M. Read More

The X-ray spectra of accretion discs of eight stellar-mass black holes have been analyzed to date using the thermal continuum fitting method, and the spectral fits have been used to estimate the spin parameters of the black holes. However, the underlying model used in this method of estimating spin is the general relativistic thin-disc model of Novikov & Thorne, which is only valid for razor-thin discs. We therefore expect errors in the measured values of spin due to inadequacies in the theoretical model. Read More

A typical galaxy is thought to contain tens of millions of stellar-mass black holes, the collapsed remnants of once massive stars, and a single nuclear supermassive black hole. Both classes of black holes accrete gas from their environments. The accreting gas forms a flattened orbiting structure known as an accretion disk. Read More

In the magnetar model, the quiescent non-thermal soft X-ray emission from Anomalous X-ray Pulsars and Soft-Gamma Repeaters is thought to arise from resonant comptonization of thermal photons by charges moving in a twisted magnetosphere. Robust inference of physical quantities from observations is difficult, because the process depends strongly on geometry and current understanding of the magnetosphere is not very deep. The polarization of soft X-ray photons is an independent source of information, and its magnetospheric imprint remains only partially explored. Read More

The radiative efficiency of AGN is commonly estimated based on the total mass accreted and the total AGN light emitted per unit volume in the universe integrated over time (the Soltan argument). In individual AGN, thin accretion disk model spectral fits can be used to deduce the absolute accretion rate Mdot, if the black hole mass M is known. The radiative efficiency {\eta} is then set by the ratio of the bolometric luminosity L_bol to Mdot c^2. Read More

The Suzaku observation of LMC X-3 gives the best data to date on the shape of the accretion disk spectrum. This is due to the combination of very low absorbing column density along this line of sight which allows the shape of the disk emisison to be constrained at low energies by the CCD's, while the tail can be simultaneously determined up to 30 keV by the high energy detectors. These data clearly demonstrate that the observed disk spectrum is broader than a simple 'sum of blackbodies', and relativistic smearing of the emission is strongly required. Read More

The first extragalactic X-ray binary, LMC X-1, was discovered in 1969. In the 1980s, its compact primary was established as the fourth dynamical black-hole candidate. Recently, we published accurate values for the mass of the black hole and the orbital inclination angle of the binary system. Read More

In prior work, {\it Chandra} and Gemini-North observations of the eclipsing X-ray binary M33 X-7 have yielded measurements of the mass of its black hole primary and the system's orbital inclination angle of unprecedented accuracy. Likewise, the distance to the binary is known to a few percent. In an analysis based on these precise results, fifteen {\it Chandra} and {\it XMM-Newton} X-ray spectra, and our fully relativistic accretion disk model, we find that the dimensionless spin parameter of the black hole primary is $a_* = 0. Read More

The accretion flow in the disk dominated state of black hole binaries has peak temperature and luminosity which vary together in such a way as to indicate an approximately constant emitting area. The association of this with the last stable orbit gives one of the few ways to estimate spin when the mass of the black hole is known. However, deriving this radius requires knowledge of how the disk spectrum is modified by radiative transfer through the vertical structure of the disk, as well as special and general relativistic effects on the propagation of this radiation. Read More

We measure long (2200-4000 ang) and short (1450-2200 ang) wavelength spectral slopes \alpha (F_\nu proportional to \nu^\alpha) for quasar spectra from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The long and short wavelength slopes are computed from 3646 and 2706 quasars with redshifts in the z=0.76-1. Read More

We show that the luminosity of a star forming galaxy is capped by the production and subsequent expulsion of cosmic rays from its interstellar medium. By defining an Eddington luminosity in cosmic rays, we show that the star formation rate of a given galaxy is limited by its mass content and the cosmic ray mean free path. When the cosmic ray luminosity and pressure reaches a critical value as a result of vigorous star formation, hydrostatic balance is lost, a cosmic ray-driven wind develops, and star formation is choked off. Read More

Turbulent Comptonization, a potentially important damping and radiation mechanism in relativistic accretion flows, is discussed. Particular emphasis is placed on the physical basis, relative importance, and thermodynamics of turbulent Comptonization. The effects of metal-absorption opacity on the spectral component resulting from turbulent Comptonization is considered as well. Read More

Based on a spectral analysis of the X-ray continuum that employs a fully relativistic accretion-disk model, we conclude that the compact primary of the binary X-ray source GRS 1915+105 is a rapidly-rotating Kerr black hole. We find a lower limit on the dimensionless spin parameter of a* greater than 0.98. Read More

Self-consistent vertical structure models together with non-LTE radiative transfer should produce spectra from accretion disks around black holes which differ from multitemperature blackbodies at levels which may be observed. High resolution, high signal-to-noise observations warrant spectral modeling which both accounts for relativistic effects, and treats the physics of radiative transfer in detail. In Davis et al. Read More

We present results from spectral modeling of three black hole X-ray binaries: LMC X-3, GRO J1655-40, and XTE J1550-564. Using a sample of disk dominated observations, we fit the data with a range of spectral models that includes a simple multitemperature blackbody (DISKBB), a relativistic accretion disk model based on color-corrected blackbodies (KERRBB), and a relativistic model based on non-LTE atmosphere models within an alpha prescription (BHSPEC). BHSPEC provides the best fit for a BeppoSAX observation of LMC X-3, which has the broadest energy coverage of our sample. Read More

Microquasars are galactic black hole binary systems with radio jets which can sometimes be spatially resolved to show superluminal motion. The first and best known of this class of objects is GRS 1915+105, the brightest accreting source in our Galaxy. There is persistent speculation that strong jet emission could be linked to black hole spin. Read More

The radiation spectra of many of the brightest ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) are dominated by a hard power law component, likely powered by a hot, optically thin corona that Comptonizes soft seed photons emitted from a cool, optically thick black hole accretion disk. Before its dissipation and subsequent conversion into coronal photon power, the randomized gravitational binding energy responsible for powering ULX phenomena must separate from the mass of its origin by a means other than, and quicker than, electron scattering-mediated radiative diffusion. Therefore, the release of accretion power in ULXs is not necessarily subject to Eddington-limited photon trapping, as long as it occurs in a corona. Read More

We fit X-ray spectral data in the thermal dominant or high soft state of two dynamically confirmed black holes, GRO J1655-40 and 4U 1543-47, and estimate the dimensionless spin parameters a* = a/M of the two holes. For GRO J1655-40, using a spectral hardening factor computed for a non-LTE relativistic accretion disk, we estimate a* ~ 0.75 and ~ 0. Read More

We present calculations of non-LTE, relativistic accretion disk models applicable to the high/soft state of black hole X-ray binaries. We include the effects of thermal Comptonization and bound-free and free-free opacities of all abundant ion species. We present spectra calculated for a variety of accretion rates, black hole spin parameters, disk inclinations, and stress prescriptions. Read More

In the inner-most regions of radiation pressure supported accretion disks, the turbulent magnetic pressure may greatly exceed that of the gas. If this is the case, it is possible for bulk Alfvenic motions driven by the magnetorotational instability (MRI) to surpass the electron thermal velocity. Bulk rather than thermal Comptonization may then be the dominant radiative process which mediates gravitational energy release. Read More