Prospects for AGN Studies with AXIS: AGN Fueling -- Resolving Hot Gas inside Bondi Radius of SMBHs





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Hot gas around a supermassive black hole (SMBH) should be captured within the gravitational "sphere of influence", characterized by the Bondi radius. Deep Chandra observations have spatially resolved the Bondi radii of at least five nearby SMBHs. Contrary to earlier hot accretion models that predicted a steep temperature increase within the Bondi radius, none of the resolved temperature profiles exhibit such an increase. The temperature inside the Bondi radius appears to be complex, indicative of a multi-temperature phase of hot gas with a cooler component at about 0.2-0.3 keV. The density profiles within the Bondi regions are shallow, suggesting the presence of strong outflows. These findings might be explained by recent realistic numerical simulations that suggest that large-scale accretion inside the Bondi radius can be chaotic, with cooler gas raining down in some directions and hotter gas outflowing in others. With an angular resolution similar to Chandra and a significantly larger collecting area, AXIS will collect enough photons to map the emerging accretion flow within and around the "sphere of influence" of a sample of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). AXIS will reveal transitions in the inflow that ultimately fuels the AGN, as well as outflows that provide feedback to the environment.