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NASA's Chandra Observatory Catches Giant Black Hole Rejecting Material

Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have taken a major step in explaining why material around the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is extraordinarily faint in X-rays. This discovery holds important implications for understanding black holes.
New Chandra images of Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), which is located about 26,000 light-years from Earth, indicate that less than 1 percent of the gas initially within Sgr A*'s gravitational grasp ever reaches the point of no return, also called the event horizon. Instead, much of the gas is ejected before it gets near the event horizon and has a chance to brighten, leading to feeble X-ray emissions.

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Magnetar found at giant black hole

Its position near Sgr A* makes it a precious find. The magnetar's regular radio pulses could be used to measure the warping of space-time near the monster black hole and to test predictions of Einstein's general theory of relativity.
The magnetar's accidental discovery is a by-product of astronomers' excitement about the arrival of the gas cloud, dubbed G2. The cloud, which is about three times the mass of Earth, was first spotted near Sgr A* in 2012 (and was later found in 2002 data). Its arrival would deliver insight into how objects accrete into the swirling disk of material around a black hole, as well as offering the first chance for astronomers to measure the time that it takes for objects to be captured and swallowed up.

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Herschel finds hot gas on the menu for Milky Ways black hole

ESA's Herschel space observatory has made detailed observations of surprisingly hot molecular gas that may be orbiting or falling towards the supermassive black hole lurking at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.
Our local black hole is located in a region known as Sagittarius A* - Sgr A* - after a nearby radio source. It has a mass about four million times that of our Sun and lies around 26 000 light-years away from the Solar System.

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Title: Method for detecting a boson star at Sgr A* through gravitational lensing
Authors: Amitai Y. Bin-Nun

Observations of the Sgr A* region in the galactic center confirm the presence of a large amount of matter in a small volume, leading to the consensus that a black hole exists there. However, dynamical observations cannot rule out the presence of a boson star, a compact object made up of scalar particles, as both objects are far more compact than the scale of current observational constraints. While a boson star in the galactic center is disfavoured for a number of theoretical considerations, we outline the first test that can directly observe a boson star. We accomplish this by studying the strong gravitational lensing of S stars resulting from the assumption of a boson star in the Galactic Center. Boson stars have an extended mass distribution and are transparent to electromagnetic radiation, giving rise to a radial caustic curve. We calculate the brightness of images formed by stars crossing these radial caustics and show that a boson star would give rise to much brighter images than a black hole with a similar mass and that those images would be easily bright enough to be detected with upcoming instruments.

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Title: Deviation of Stellar Orbits from Test Particle Trajectories Around Sgr A* Due to Tides and Winds
Authors: Dimitrios Psaltis (Arizona), Gongjie Li (Harvard), Abraham Loeb (Harvard)

Monitoring the orbits of stars around Sgr A* offers the possibility of detecting the precession of their orbital planes due to frame dragging, of measuring the spin and quadrupole moment of the black hole, and of testing the no-hair theorem. Here we investigate whether the deviations of stellar orbits from test-particle trajectories due to wind mass loss and tidal dissipation of the orbital energy compromise such measurements. We find that the effects of stellar winds are, in general, negligible. On the other hand, for the most eccentric orbits (e>0.96) for which an optical interferometer, such as GRAVITY, will detect orbital plane precession due to frame dragging, the tidal dissipation of orbital energy occurs at timescales comparable to the timescale of precession due to the quadrupole moment of the black hole. As a result, this non-conservative effect is a potential source of systematic uncertainty in testing the no-hair theorem with stellar orbits.

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The Diner at the Center of the Galaxy

Spoiler

The Milky Way's supermassive black hole is generally a picky eater, but NASA's NuSTAR spacecraft recently caught it in the act of having a snack



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Title: X-ray Echo from the Sagittarius C Complex and 500-year Activity History of Sagittarius A*
Authors: Syukyo Gando Ryu, Masayoshi Nobukawa, Shinya Nakashima, Takeshi Go Tsuru, Katsuji Koyama, Hideki Uchiyama

This paper presents the Suzaku results obtained for the Sagittarius (Sgr) C region using the concept of X-ray reflection nebulae (XRNe) as the echo of past flares from the super massive black hole, Sgr A*. The Sgr C complex is composed of several molecular clouds proximately located in projected distance. The X-ray spectra of Sgr C were analysed on the basis of a view that XRNe are located inside the Galactic center plasma X-ray emission with an oval distribution around Sgr A*. We found that the XRNe are largely separated in the line-of-sight position, and are associated with molecular clouds in different velocity ranges detected by radio observations. We also applied the same analysis to the Sgr B XRNe and completed a long-term light curve for Sgr A* occurring in the past. As a new finding, we determined that Sgr A* was experiencing periods of high luminosity already 500 years ago, which is longer than the previously reported value. Our results are consistent with a scenario that Sgr A* was continuously active with sporadic flux variabilities of Lx = 1-3 x 10^39 erg s^-1 in the past 50 to 500 years. The average past luminosity was approximately 4-6 orders of magnitude higher than that presently observed. In addition, two short-term flares of 5-10 years are found. Thus, the past X-ray flare should not be a single short-term flare, but can be interpreted as multiple flares superposed on a long-term high state.

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Title: SgrA* emission at 7mm: variability and periodicity
Authors: Pedro Paulo B. Beaklini, Zulema Abraham

We present the result of 6 years monitoring of SgrA*, radio source associated to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. Single dish observations were performed with the Itapetinga radio telescope at 7 mm, and the contribution of the SgrA complex that surrounds SgrA* was subtracted and used as instantaneous calibrator. The observations were alternated every 10 min with those of the HII region SrgB2, which was also used as a calibrator. The reliability of the detections was tested comparing them with simultaneous observations using interferometric techniques. During the observing period we detected a continuous increase in the SgrA* flux density starting in 2008, as well as variability in timescales of days and strong intraday fluctuations. We investigated if the continuous increase in flux density is compatible with free-free emission from the tail of the disrupted compact cloud that is falling towards SgrA* and concluded that the increase is most probably intrinsic to SgrA*. Statistical analysis of the light curve using Stellingwerf and Structure Function methods revealed the existence of two minima, 156 10 and 220 10 days. The same statistical tests applied to a simulated light curve constructed from two quadratic sinusoidal functions superimposed to random variability reproduced very well the results obtained with the real light curve, if the periods were 57 and 156 days. Moreover, when a daily sampling was used in the simulated light curve, it was possible to reproduce the 2.3 GHz structure function obtained by Falcke in 1999, which revealed the 57 days period, while the 106 periodicity found by Zhao et al in 2001 could be a resonance of this period.

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NASA'S NuSTAR Reveals Flare From Milky Way's Black Hole

NASA's newest set of X-ray eyes in the sky, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), has caught its first look at the giant black hole parked at the center of our galaxy. The observations show the typically mild-mannered black hole during the middle of a flare-up.
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Title: Can we see pulsars around Sgr A*? - The latest searches with the Effelsberg telescope
Authors: R. P. Eatough, M. Kramer, B. Klein, R. Karuppusamy, D. J. Champion, P. C. C. Freire, N. Wex, K. Liu

Radio pulsars in relativistic binary systems are unique tools to study the curved space-time around massive compact objects. The discovery of a pulsar closely orbiting the super-massive black hole at the centre of our Galaxy, Sgr A*, would provide a superb test-bed for gravitational physics. To date, the absence of any radio pulsar discoveries within a few arc minutes of Sgr A* has been explained by one principal factor: extreme scattering of radio waves caused by inhomogeneities in the ionised component of the interstellar medium in the central 100 pc around Sgr A*. Scattering, which causes temporal broadening of pulses, can only be mitigated by observing at higher frequencies. Here we describe recent searches of the Galactic centre region performed at a frequency of 18.95 GHz with the Effelsberg radio telescope.

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