Images of the radiatively inefficient accretion flow surrounding a Kerr black hole: application in Sgr A*

Ye-Fei Yuan(1), Xinwu Cao(2), Lei Huang(1,2,3), Zhi-Qiang Shen(2)

(1) Key Laboratory for Research in Galaxies and Cosmology, University of Sciences and Technology of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei 230026, China
(2) Key Laboratory for Research in Galaxies and Cosmology, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200030, China
(3) Academia Sinica, Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taipei 106, Taiwan

Paper: ApJ, April 2009, accepted


In fully general relativity, we calculate the images of the radiatively inefficient accretion flow (RIAF) surrounding a Kerr black hole with arbitrary spins, inclination angles, and observational wavelengths. For the same initial conditions, such as the fixed accretion rate, it is found that the intrinsic size and radiation intensity of the images become larger, but the images become more compact in the inner region, while the size of the black hole shadow decreases with the increase of the black hole spin. With the increase of the inclination angles, the shapes of the black hole shadows change and become smaller, even disappear at all due to the obscuration by the thick disks. For median inclination angles, the radial velocity observed at infinity is larger because of both the rotation and radial motion of the fluid in the disk, which results in the luminous part of the images is much brighter. For larger inclination angles, such as the disk is edge on, the emission becomes dimmer at longer observational wavelengths (such as at 7.0mm and 3.5mm wavelengths), or brighter at shorter observational wavelengths (such as at 1.3 mm wavelength) than that of the face on case, except for the high spin and high inclination images. These complex behaviors are due to the combination of the Lorentz boosting effect and the radiative absorption in the disk. We hope our results are helpful to determine the spin parameter of the black hole in low luminosity sources, such as the Galactic center. A primary analysis by comparison with the observed sizes of Sgr A* at millimeters strongly suggests that the disk around the central black hole at Sgr A* is highly inclined or the central black hole is rotating fast.

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