NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2007B-0203

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Proposal Information for 2007B-0203


PI: Robert T. Zavala Jr., U.S. Naval Observatory, bzavala@nofs.navy.mil
Address: Flagstaff Station, 10391 W. Naval Observatory Rd., Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA

CoI: Alison Peck, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA
CoI: Lindsey Pollack, UC Santa Cruz
CoI: Cristina Rodriguez, University of New Mexico
CoI: Roger Romani, Stanford University
CoI: Gregory Taylor, University of New Mexico

Title: Completing the picture: Deep imaging of the host galaxy of the closest pair of binary black holes

Abstract: Using the VLBA, we have identified the radio galaxy 0402+379 as the host of a pair of binary black holes separated by a projected distance of just 7 parsecs. This makes 0402+379 the only black hole pair close to the stage when gravitational radiation may be emitted. We have developed a detailed picture of the source using radio observations, HET spectra and archival ROSAT observations. Our present analysis is hampered by the lack of a high resolution optical image. We propose a one night observation of 0402+379, using WIYN and its superb seeing, to produce high resolution, multi-color broad and narrow band images of 0402+379. Our two primary goals are to identify the nature of the host galaxy and whether a nearby companion galaxy is interacting with 0402+379. With a modest allocation of WIYN time we can approximately date the merger that produced the binary BH and perhaps identify a subsequent merger that may overcome the ``last parsec'' problem in BH mergers.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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