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Modeling Astrophysical Plasmas in the Strongest Gravity Regime

Presentation #404.01 in the session Innovation Prize Lecture: Javier Garcia, Thomas Dauser, & Tim Kallman.

Published onMay 03, 2024
Modeling Astrophysical Plasmas in the Strongest Gravity Regime

The regions closest to the horizon of accreting black holes are subject to extreme conditions: high temperatures, high densities and relativistic effects. However, study of these regions utilizes physics tools which are familiar from less exotic environments, i.e. nebulae or terrestrial plasmas. These modeling tools have allowed us to derive fundamental parameters of accreting black holes, including the ionization structure, element abundances, orientation, and black hole angular momentum. In this talk we provide an overview of the development of our computational models built over several decades. This combines the complexities of atomic physics and radiative transfer calculations (such as the XSTAR and XILLVER codes) with ray-tracing computations in a full relativistic framework, ultimately leading to a full model for relativistic and ionized X-ray reflection from accretion disks (the RELXILL model). We highlight some of the most relevant scientific results enabled by these models, and provide our vision for the potential of future measurements with the new generation of X-ray detectors.

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