Flares from spiral waves by lensing and time-delay amplification?

Vladimir Karas, Michal Dovciak, Andreas Eckart and Leonhard Meyer

Paper: Proceedings "Ragtime 9" workshop, in preparation


Episodically accreting black holes are thought to produce flares when a chunk of particles is accelerated to high velocity near the black hole horizon. This also seems to be the case of Sagittarius A* in the Galactic Center, where the broad-band radiation is produced, likely via the synchrotron self-Compton mechanism. It has been proposed that strong-field gravitational lensing magnifies the flares. The effect of lensing is generally weak and requires a fine-tuned geometrical arrangement, which occurs with only a low probability. However, there are several aspects that make Sagittarius A* a promising target to reveal strong gravity effects. Unlike type II (obscured) active galaxies, chances are that a flare is detected at high inclination, which would be favourable for lensing. Time delays can then significantly influence the observed flare duration and the form of light-curve profiles. Here we discuss an idea that the impact of lensing amplification should be considerably enhanced when the shape of the flaring clump is appropriately elongated in the form of a spiral wave or a narrow filament, rather than a simple (circular) spot which we employed previously within the phenomenological `orbiting spot model'. By parameterizing the emission region in terms of the spiral shape and contrast, we are able to extend the spot model to more complicated sources. In the case of spirals, we notice a possibility that more photons reach a distant observer at the same moment because of interplay between lensing and light-travel time. The effect is not symmetrical with respect to leading versus trailing spirals, so in principle the source geometry can be constrained. In spite of this, the spot model seems to provide entirely adequate framework to study the currently available data.

Preprints available from the authors at vladimir.karas@cuni.cz , or the raw TeX (no figures) if you click here.

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