A spinning supermassive black hole binary revealed by VLBI data on the jet of S5 1928+738 [HEAP]


Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) allows for high-resolution and high-sensitivity observations of relativistic jets, that can reveal periodicities of several years in their structure. We perform an analysis of long term VLBI data on the quasar S5 1928+738, confronting it with a geometric model of a helical structure projected on to the plane of the sky. We monitor the direction of the jet axis through its inclination and position angles. We decompose the variation of the inclination of the inner 2 milliarcsecond part of the jet of S5 1928+738 into a periodic term with an amplitude of ~0.89 deg and a linear decreasing trend with rate of ~0.05 deg/yr. We also decompose the variation of the position angle into a periodic term with amplitude of ~3.39 deg and a linear increasing trend with rate of ~0.24 deg/yr. We interpret the periodic components as arising from the orbital motion of a binary black hole inspiraling at the jet base. Corrected values of the mass ratio and separation are derived from the accumulated 18 years of VLBI data. Then we identify the linear trends in the variations as due to the slow reorientation of the spin of the jet emitter black hole induced by the spin-orbit precession and we determine the precession period T_SO=4852+/-646 yr of the more massive black hole, acting as the jet emitter. With this we find for the first time evidence from jet data for the precession of the orbital plane of a binary lying at its base, hence indirectly for the spin of the jet-emitting black hole.

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E. Kun, K. Gabanyi, M. Karouzos, et. al.
Wed, 12 Feb 14