Accretion in strong gravity: From galactic to supermassive black holes

Chris Done, Marek Gierliński

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The galactic black hole binary systems give an observational template showing how the accretion flow changes as a function of increasing mass accretion rate, or L/L Edd. These data can be synthesised with theoretical models of the accretion flow to give a coherent picture of accretion in strong gravity, in which the major hard-soft spectral transition is triggered by a change in the nature and geometry of the inner accretion flow from a hot, optically thin plasma to a cool, optically thick accretion disc. However, a straightforward application of these models to AGN gives clear discrepancies in overall spectral shape. Either the underlying accretion model is wrong, despite its success in describing the Galactic systems and/or there is additional physics which breaks the simple scaling from stellar to supermassive black holes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAstrophysics and Space Science
Subtitle of host publicationFrom X-Ray Binaries to Quasars: Black Holes on all Mass Scales
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)1402040849, 9781402040849
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005


  • accretion flows
  • black holes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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