Published in PASP, 112, 1145, 2000.

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A.C. Fabian 1, K. Iwasawa 1, C.S. Reynolds 2, 3, A.J. Young 4

1 Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA UK
2 JILA, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 80309
3 Hubble Fellow
4 Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park MD 20742

Abstract. An intrinsically narrow line emitted by an accretion disk around a black hole appears broadened and skewed as a result of the Doppler effect and gravitational redshift. The fluorescent iron line in the X-ray band at 6.4 - 6.9 keV is the strongest such line and is seen in the X-ray spectrum of many active galactic nuclei and, in particular, Seyfert galaxies. It is an important diagnostic with which to study the geometry and other properties of the accretion flow very close to the central black hole. The broad iron line indicates the presence of a standard thin accretion disk in those objects, often seen at low inclination. The broad iron line has opened up strong gravitational effects around black holes to observational study with wide-reaching consequences for both astrophysics and physics.

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