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Paper: Water Masers and Accretion Disks in Galactic Nuclei
Volume: 340, Future Directions in High Resolution Astronomy: The 10th Anniversary of the VLBA
Page: 203
Authors: Greenhill, L.J.
Abstract: There are over 50 sources of H2O maser emission in type-2 active galactic nuclei, a large fraction discovered in the last two years. Interferometer maps of water masers are presently the only means by which structures ≤ 1 pc from massive black holes can be mapped directly, which is particularly important for type-2 systems because edge-on orientation and obscuration complicate study by other means. Investigations of several sources have demonstrated convincingly that the maser emission traces warped accretion disks 0.1 to 1 pc from central engines of order 106-108 Msolar. The same may be true for almost half the known (but unmapped) sources, based on spectral characteristics consistent with emission from edge-on accretion disks. Mapping these sources is a high priority. Study of most recently discovered masers requires long baseline arrays that include 100-m class apertures and would benefit from aggregate bit rates on the order of 1 gigabit per second. The Square Kilometer Array should provide an order of magnitude boost in mapping sensitivity, but outrigger antennas will be needed to achieve necesssary angular resolutions, as may be space-borne antennas.
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