Observational signatures of disc and jet misalignment in images of accreting black holes

K. Chatterjee, Z. Younsi, M. Liska, A. Tchekhovskoy, S. B. Markoff, D. Yoon, D. Van Eijnatten, C. Hesp, A. Ingram, M. B.M. Van Der Klis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Black hole (BH) accretion is one of nature's most efficient energy extraction processes. When gas falls in, a significant fraction of its gravitational binding energy is either converted into radiation or flows outwards in the form of BH-driven jets and disc-driven winds. Recently, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an Earth-sized submillimetre radio interferometer, captured the first images of M87's BH. These images were analysed and interpreted using general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD) models of accretion discs with rotation axes aligned with the BH spin axis. However, since infalling gas is often insensitive to the BH spin direction, misalignment between accretion disc and BH spin may be a common occurrence in nature. In this work, we use the general relativistic radiative transfer code BHOSS to calculate the first synthetic radio images of (highly) tilted disc/jet models generated by our GPU-accelerated GRMHD code H-AMR . While the tilt does not have a noticeable effect on the system dynamics beyond a few tens of gravitational radii from the BH, the warping of the disc and jet can imprint observable signatures in EHT images on smaller scales. Comparing the images from our GRMHD models to the 43 and 230 GHz EHT images of M87, we find that M87 may feature a tilted disc/jet system. Further, tilted discs and jets display significant time variability in the 230 GHz flux that can be further tested by longer-duration EHT observations of M87.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-378
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Accretion
  • Accretion discs
  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: jets
  • MHD
  • Methods: numerical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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