Black holes under the magnifying glass of XRISM and Athena

Black holes under the magnifying glass of XRISM and Athena

The XRISM project, the Athena Science Study Team, and the Athena Community Office are organizing the Special Session "Black holes under the magnifying glass of XRISM and Athena" at the European Astronomical Society 2021 Meeting. The event will be entirely virtual on the 30th of June.


Aims and scope

Black holes (BHs) are the most extreme laboratories to test our understanding of the physics involved in the interaction between matter and radiation. Accreting BHs, in stellar-mass (BH binaries) and supermassive (AGN) forms, power extreme radiation fields and relativistic outflows. Thanks to high-throughput and -resolution X-ray spectroscopy with Chandra and XMM-Newton, plasma diagnostics of absorption systems along the lines of sight to BH binaries and AGN have enabled initial estimates of the velocities, ionizations, and geometrical structure of these outflows. X-ray spectroscopy also provides the most reliable measurements of the otherwise elusive spins of these black holes. Despite these tremendous advancements, however, many fundamental questions remain open: Where and how are relativistic winds accelerated? What is the structure of the innermost region of the BH accretion disk/corona and how does it affect the region where the most powerful black hole outflows are launched? What is the current distribution of spin values in nearby AGN and in stellar-mass BHs? To what extent are accreting BH systems mass invariant? Future X-ray observatories such as the ESA Athena (to be launched by the early 2030s) and JAXA X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM, end of Japanese Fiscal Year 2022) will address most of these questions thanks to their innovative payloads. After reviewing the current observational status and the latest theoretical advancements on the structure of the innermost accretion flow, accretion disk winds, and jet formation, this Special Session will address how XRISM and Athena are expected to revolutionize these fields.



The programme - available in PDF here - is structured in three thematic blocks:

  • Accretion disks and jets in accreting black hole systems: observational status-
  • Accretion disks and jets in accreting black hole systems: main open theoretical questions (now and in the 2030s).
  • The prospective observational revolution is to be led by XRISM and Athena.


Invited speakers

The confirmed invited speakers are:

  • Dr. Elisa Costantini (SRON).

  • Prof. Aya Kubota (Shibaura Institute of Technology).

  • Prof. Sera Markoff (University of Amsterdam).

  • Prof. Erin Kara (Maryland University).

  • Prof. Ken Ohsuga (University of Tsukuba).

  • Dr. Phil Uttley (University of Amsterdam).

Scientific organisers

  • Didier Barret (IRAP).
  • Laura Brenneman (CfA).
  • Massimo Cappi (co-Chair; INAF-OAS).
  • Francisco Carrera (IFCA).
  • Maria Díaz Trigo (ESO).
  • Chris Done (University of Durham).
  • Matteo Guainazzi (co-Chair, ESA).
  • Anna Lia Longinotti (INAOE).
  • Hironori Matsumoto (Osaka University).
  • Arne Rau (MPE).
  • Makoto Tashiro (Saitama University).

Online presentations:

The presentations of this special session are open access to the community under the Athena document repository (see here). An extended version of the presentation of Niel Brandt can be watched on this Youtube link

Black holes under the magnifying glass of XRISM and Athena