Evidence for Low Black Hole Spin and Physically Motivated Accretion Models From Millimeter-vlbi Observations of Sagittarius A*
Broderick, Avery E.
Fish, Vincent L.
Doeleman, Sheperd S.
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CitationBroderick, Avery E., Vincent L. Fish, Sheperd S. Doeleman, and Abraham Loeb. 2011. “EVIDENCE FOR LOW BLACK HOLE SPIN AND PHYSICALLY MOTIVATED ACCRETION MODELS FROM MILLIMETER-VLBI OBSERVATIONS OF SAGITTARIUS A*.” The Astrophysical Journal 735 (2): 110. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637x/735/2/110.
AbstractMillimeter very long baseline interferometry (mm-VLBI) provides the novel capacity to probe the emission region of a handful of supermassive black holes on sub-horizon scales. For Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, this provides access to the region in the immediate vicinity of the horizon. Broderick et al. have already shown that by leveraging spectral and polarization information as well as accretion theory, it is possible to extract accretion-model parameters (including black hole spin) from mm-VLBI experiments containing only a handful of telescopes. Here we repeat this analysis with the most recent mm-VLBI data, considering a class of aligned, radiatively inefficient accretion flow (RIAF) models. We find that the combined data set rules out symmetric models for Sgr A*'s flux distribution at the 3.9 sigma level, strongly favoring length-to-width ratios of roughly 2.4:1. More importantly, we find that physically motivated accretion flow models provide a significantly better fit to the mm-VLBI observations than phenomenological models, at the 2.9 sigma level. This implies that not only is mm-VLBI presently capable of distinguishing between potential physical models for Sgr A*'s emission, but further that it is sensitive to the strong gravitational lensing associated with the propagation of photons near the black hole. Based upon this analysis we find that the most probable magnitude, viewing angle, and position angle for the black hole spin are a = 0.0(+0.64+0.86), theta = 68 degrees(+5 degrees+9 degrees)(-20 degrees-28 degrees), and xi = -52 degrees(+17 degrees+33 degrees)(-15 degrees-24 degrees) east of north, where the errors quoted are the 1 sigma and 2 sigma uncertainties.
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