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Title: NuSTAR detection of high-energy X-ray emission and rapid variability from Sagittarius A{sup *} flares

Sagittarius A{sup *} harbors the supermassive black hole that lies at the dynamical center of our Galaxy. Sagittarius A{sup *} spends most of its time in a low luminosity emission state but flares frequently in the infrared and X-ray, increasing up to a few hundred fold in brightness for up to a few hours at a time. The physical processes giving rise to the X-ray flares are uncertain. Here we report the detection with the NuSTAR observatory in Summer and Fall 2012 of four low to medium amplitude X-ray flares to energies up to 79 keV. For the first time, we clearly see that the power-law spectrum of Sagittarius A{sup *} X-ray flares extends to high energy, with no evidence for a cutoff. Although the photon index of the absorbed power-law fits are in agreement with past observations, we find a difference between the photon index of two of the flares (significant at the 95% confidence level). The spectra of the two brightest flares (∼55 times quiescence in the 2-10 keV band) are compared to simple physical models in an attempt to identify the main X-ray emission mechanism, but the data do not allow us to significantly discriminate between them.more » However, we confirm the previous finding that the parameters obtained with synchrotron models are, for the X-ray emission, physically more reasonable than those obtained with inverse Compton models. One flare exhibits large and rapid (<100 s) variability, which, considering the total energy radiated, constrains the location of the flaring region to be within ∼10 Schwarzschild radii of the black hole.« less
Authors:
; ; ; ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ; ; ;  [5] ; ; ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8]
  1. Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 (United States)
  2. Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 (United States)
  3. DTU Space, National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Elektrovej 327, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby (Denmark)
  4. Departments of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 (United States)
  5. Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Caltech, Pasadena, CA 91125 (United States)
  6. Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027 (United States)
  7. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109 (United States)
  8. X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22357017
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 786; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCRETION DISKS; AMPLITUDES; BLACK HOLES; BRIGHTNESS; DETECTION; EMISSION; GALAXIES; KEV RANGE; LUMINOSITY; PHOTONS; SCHWARZSCHILD RADIUS; SPECTRA; STARS; SYNCHROTRONS; X RADIATION