The black hole mass of NGC 4151: Comparison of reverberation mapping and stellar dynamical measurements

Christopher A. Onken*, Monica Valluri, Bradley M. Peterson, Richard W. Pogge, Misty C. Bentz, Laura Ferrarese, Marianne Vestergaard, D. Michael Crenshaw, Sergey G. Sergeev, Ian M. McHardy, David Merritt, Gary A. Bower, Timothy M. Heckman, Amri Wandel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


We present a stellar dynamical estimate of the black hole (BH) mass in the Seyfert 1 galaxy, NGC 4151. We analyze ground-based spectroscopy as well as imaging data from the ground and space, and we construct three-integral axisymmetric models in order to constrain the BH mass and mass-to-light ratio. The dynamical models depend on the assumed inclination of the kinematic symmetry axis of the stellar bulge. In the case in which the bulge is assumed to be viewed edge-on, the kinematical data give only an upper limit to the mass of the BH, of ∼4 x 107 M (1 σ). If the bulge kinematic axis is assumed to have the same inclination as the symmetry axis of the large-scale galaxy disk (i.e., 23° relative to the line of sight), a best-fit dynamical mass between 4 and 5 x 107 M is obtained. However, because of the poor quality of the fit when the bulge is assumed to be inclined (as determined by the noisiness of the x2 surface and its minimum value) and because we lack spectroscopic data that clearly resolves the BH sphere of influence, we consider our measurements to be tentative estimates of the dynamical BH mass. With this preliminary result, NGC 4151 is now among the small sample of galaxies in which the BH mass has been constrained from two independent techniques, and the mass values we find for both bulge inclinations are in reasonable agreement with the recent estimate from reverberation mapping (4.57+0.57-0.47 X 10 7 M) published by Bentz et al.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-115
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


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