Monitoring the Galactic Centre with the Australia Telescope Compact Array

A. Borkar, A Eckart, C. Straubmeier, D. Kunneriath, Bahram Jalali, N. Sabha, B. Shahzamanian, M. García-Marín, M. Valencia-S, L. Sjouwerman, S. Britzen, V. Karas, M. Dovciak, Alina Donea, J Anton Zensus

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The supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), at the centre of the Milky Way undergoes regular flaring activity, which is thought to arise from the innermost region of the accretion flow. Between 2010 and 2014, we performed monitoring observations of the Galactic Centre to study the flux-density variations at 3 mm using the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA). We obtain light curves of Sgr A* by subtracting the contributions from the extended emission around it, and the elevation and time-dependent gains of the telescope. We perform structure function analysis and the Bayesian blocks representation to detect flare events. The observations detect six instances of significant variability in the flux density of Sgr A* in three observations, with variations between 0.5 and 1.0 Jy, which last for 1.5-3 h. We use the adiabatically expanding plasmon model to explain the short time-scale variations in the flux density. We derive the physical quantities of the modelled flare emission, such as the source expansion speed vexp, source sizes, spectral indices and the turnover frequency. These parameters imply that the expanding source components are either confined to the immediate vicinity of Sgr A* by contributing to the corona or the disc, or have a bulk motion greater than vexp. No exceptional flux-density variation on short flare time-scales was observed during the approach and the flyby of the dusty S-cluster object (DSO/G2). This is consistent with its compactness and the absence of a large bow shock.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2336-2349
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • accretion
  • accretion discs
  • black hole physics
  • techniques: interferometric
  • Galaxy: centre
  • galaxies: nuclei

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