Modeling Hot Gas Flow in the Low-Luminosity Active Galactic Nucleus of NGC 3115

Roman V. Shcherbakov, University of Maryland at College Park
Ka-Wah Wong, Minnesota State University Mankato
Jimmy A. Irwin, University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa
Christopher S. Reynolds, Minnesota State University Mankato


Based on the dynamical black hole (BH) mass estimates, NGC 3115 hosts the closest billion solar mass BH. Deep studies of the center revealed a very underluminous active galactic nucleus (AGN) immersed in an old massive nuclear star cluster. Recent 1 Ms Chandra X-ray visionary project observations of the NGC 3115 nucleus resolved hot tenuous gas, which fuels the AGN. In this paper we connect the processes in the nuclear star cluster with the feeding of the supermassive BH. We model the hot gas flow sustained by the injection of matter and energy from the stars and supernova explosions. We incorporate electron heat conduction as the small-scale feedback mechanism, the gravitational pull of the stellar mass, cooling, and Coulomb collisions. Fitting simulated X-ray emission to the spatially and spectrally resolved observed data, we find the best-fitting solutions with χ2/dof = 1.00 for dof = 236 both with and without conduction. The radial modeling favors a low BH mass <1.3 × 109 M . The best-fitting supernova rate and the best-fitting mass injection rate are consistent with their expected values. The stagnation point is at r st 1'', so that most of the gas, including the gas at a Bondi radius rB = 2''-4'', outflows from the region. We put an upper limit on the accretion rate at 2 × 10–3 M yr–1. We find a shallow density profile nr –β with β ≈ 1 over a large dynamic range. This density profile is determined in the feeding region 05-10'' as an interplay of four processes and effects: (1) the radius-dependent mass injection, (2) the effect of the galactic gravitational potential, (3) the accretion flow onset at r 1'', and (4) the outflow at r 1''. The gas temperature is close to the virial temperature Tv at any radius.