Study of Polarized Emission from Black Hole Accretion Disks

Pitts, Dirk, Astronomy, University of Virginia
Skrutskie, Michael, AS, University of Virginia
Davis, Shane, AS, University of Virginia

Using the established Athena++ Monte Carlo radiation transfer code package, we build upon it to incorporate polarized scattering and evolution of a photon as it is emitted from a black hole accretion disk and propagates to an observer far from the black hole. This is of particular interest in relation to the upcoming Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Ecplorer (IXPE) mission currently planned by NASA to launch in April 2021. This telescope focuses on observing the polarization of x-ray objects such as active galactic nuclei, pulsars, and black holes to better understand the production of x-rays in these objects. This thesis hopes to create predictions of how the evolution of the Stokes vector, which quantizes the polarization, evolves as a high energy photon follows a geodesic away from a black hole after being emitted from the disk.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
black hole physics, polarization, radiation transfer
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