Further evidence for a supermassive black hole mass-pitch angle relation

Joel C. Berrier, Benjamin L. Davis, Daniel Kennefick, Julia D. Kennefick, Marc S. Seigar, Robert Scott Barrows, Matthew Hartley, Doug Shields, Misty C. Bentz, Claud H.S. Lacy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We present new and stronger evidence for a previously reported relationship between galactic spiral arm pitch angle P (a measure of the tightness of spiral structure) and the mass M BH of a disk galaxy's nuclear supermassive black hole (SMBH). We use an improved method to accurately measure the spiral arm pitch angle in disk galaxies to generate quantitative data on this morphological feature for 34 galaxies with directly measured black hole masses. We find a relation of log (M/M ) = (8.21 ± 0.16)-(0.062 ± 0.009)P. This method is compared with other means of estimating black hole mass to determine its effectiveness and usefulness relative to other existing relations. We argue that such a relationship is predicted by leading theories of spiral structure in disk galaxies, including the density wave theory. We propose this relationship as a tool for estimating SMBH masses in disk galaxies. This tool is potentially superior when compared to other methods for this class of galaxy and has the advantage of being unambiguously measurable from imaging data alone.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number132
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2013


    • galaxies: Spiral
    • galaxies: fundamental parameters
    • galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
    • galaxies: nuclei
    • galaxies: structure

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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