- ALMA and VLA measurements of frequency-dependent time lags in Sagittarius A*: evidence for a relativistic outflow
- Astronomy & Astrophysics
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- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
ontext. Radio and mm-wavelength observations of Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the radio source associated with the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, show that it behaves as a partially self-absorbed synchrotron-emitting source. The measured size of Sgr A* shows that the mm-wavelength emission comes from a small region and consists of the inner accretion flow and a possible collimated outflow. Existing observations of Sgr A* have revealed a time lag between light curves at 43 GHz and 22 GHz, which is consistent with a rapidly expanding plasma flow and supports the presence of a collimated outflow from the environment of an accreting black hole.
Aims. Here we wish to measure simultaneous frequency-dependent time lags in the light curves of Sgr A* across a broad frequency range to constrain direction and speed of the radio-emitting plasma in the vicinity of the black hole.
Methods. Light curves of Sgr A* were taken in May 2012 using ALMA at 100 GHz using the VLA at 48, 39, 37, 27, 25.5, and 19 GHz. As a result of elevation limits and the longitude difference between the stations, the usable overlap in the light curves is approximately four hours. Although Sgr A* was in a relatively quiet phase, the high sensitivity of ALMA and the VLA allowed us to detect and fit maxima of an observed minor flare where flux density varied by ~10%.
Results. The fitted times of flux density maxima at frequencies from 100 GHz to 19 GHz, as well as a cross-correlation analysis, reveal a simple frequency-dependent time lag relation where maxima at higher frequencies lead those at lower frequencies. Taking the observed size-frequency relation of Sgr A* into account, these time lags suggest a moderately relativistic (lower estimates: 0.5c for two-sided, 0.77c for one-sided) collimated outflow.
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