Detecting Flaring Structures in Sagittarius A* with High-Frequency VLBI

Sheperd S. Doeleman(1), Vincent L. Fish(1), Avery E. Broderick(2), Abraham Loeb(3), Alan E. E. Rogers(1)

(1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Haystack Observatory, Route 40, Westford, MA 01886.
(2) Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto, 60 St. George St., Toronto, ON, M5S 3H8 Canada.
(3) Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard University, Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

Paper: ApJ, 2009, 695, 59

EPrint Server: 0809.3424


The super-massive black hole candidate, Sagittarius A*, exhibits variability from radio to X-ray wavelengths on timescales that correspond to < 10 Schwarzschild radii. We survey the potential of millimeter wavelength very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) to detect and constrain time-variable structures that could give rise to such variations, focusing on a model in which an orbiting hot spot is embedded in an accretion disk. Nonimaging algorithms are developed that use interferometric closure quantities to test for periodicity, and applied to an ensemble of hot spot models that sample a range of parameter space. We find that structural periodicity in a wide range of cases can be detected on most potential VLBI arrays using modern VLBI instrumentation. Future enhancements of millimeter/submillimeter VLBI arrays including phased-array processors to aggregate VLBI station collecting area, increased bandwidth recording, and addition of new VLBI sites all significantly aid periodicity detection. The methods described herein can be applied to other models of Sagittarius A*, including jet outflows and magnetohydrodynamic accretion simulations.

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