Jet-lag in Sgr A*: What size and timing measurements tell us about the central black hole in the Milky Way

Heino Falcke(1,2), Sera Markoff(3), Geoffrey C. Bower(4)

(1) Department of Astrophysics, Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics, Radboud University, P.O. Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands
(2) ASTRON, Oude Hoogeveensedijk 4, 7991 PD Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
(3) Astronomical Institute ``Anton Pannekoek'', University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(4) UC Berkeley, 601 Campbell Hall, Astronomy Department & Radio Astronomy Lab, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

Paper: A&A, in press


EPrint Server: 0901.3723


The black hole at the Galactic Center, Sgr A*, is the prototype of a galactic nucleus at a very low level of activity. Its radio through submm-wave emission is known to come from a region close to the event horizon, however, the source of the emission is still under debate. A successful theory explaining the emission is based on a relativistic jet model scaled down from powerful quasars. We want to test the predictive power of this established jet model against newly available measurements of wavelength-dependent time lags and the size-wavelength structure in Sgr A*. Using all available closure amplitude VLBI data from different groups, we again derived the intrinsic wavelength-dependent size of Sgr A*. This allowed us to calculate the expected frequency-dependent time lags of radio flares, assuming a range of in- and outflow velocities. Moreover, we calculated the time lags expected in the previously published pressure-driven jet model. The predicted lags are then compared to radio monitoring observations at 22, 43, and 350 GHz. The combination of time lags and size measurementsfg imply a mildly relativistic outflow with bulk outflow speeds of gamma beta 0.5-2. The newly measured time lags are reproduced well by the jet model without any major fine tuning. The results further strengthen the case for the cm-to-mm wave radio emission in Sgr A* as coming from a mildly relativistic jet-like outflow. The combination of radio time lag and VLBI closure amplitude measurements is a powerful new tool for assessing the flow speed and direction in Sgr A*. Future VLBI and time lag measurements over a range of wavelengths will reveal more information about Sgr A*, such as the existence of a jet nozzle, and measure the detailed velocity structure of a relativistic jet near its launching point for the first time.

Preprints available from the authors at , or the raw TeX (no figures) if you click here.

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