Powerful jets from accreting black holes: Evidence from the optical and infrared

David M. Russell, Rob P. Fender

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A common consequence of accretion onto black holes is the formation of powerful, relativistic jets that escape the system. In the case of supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies this has been known for decades, but for stellar-mass black holes residing within galaxies like our own, it has taken recent advances to arrive at this conclusion. Here, a review is given of the evidence that supports the existence of jets from accreting stellar-mass black holes, from observations made at optical and infrared wavelengths. In particular it is found that on occasion, jets can dominate the emission of these systems at these wavelengths. In addition, the interactions between the jets and the surrounding matter produce optical and infrared emission on large scales via thermal and non-thermal processes. The evidence, implications and applications in the context of jet physics are discussed. It is shown that many properties of the jets can be constrained from these studies, including the total kinetic power they contain. The main conclusion is that like the supermassive black holes, the jet kinetic power of accreting stellar-mass black holes is sometimes comparable to their bolometric radiative luminosity. Future studies can test ubiquities in jet properties between objects, and attempt to unify the properties of jets from all observable accreting black holes, i.e. of all masses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBlack Holes and Galaxy Formation
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781617613982
ISBN (Print)9781607417033
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Accretion
  • Accretion disks
  • Infrared
  • Jets
  • Optical
  • Outflows
  • Radiation mechanisms
  • X-ray binaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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