Modeling the orbital motion of Sgr A*’s near-infrared flares Journal Article uri icon



  • Infrared observations of Sgr A* probe the region close to the event horizon of the black hole at the Galactic center. These observations can constrain the properties of low-luminosity accretion as well as that of the black hole itself. The GRAVITY instrument at the ESO VLTI has recently detected continuous circular relativistic motion during infrared flares which has been interpreted as orbital motion near the event horizon. Here we analyze the astrometric data from these flares, taking into account the effects of out-of-plane motion and orbital shear of material near the event horizon of the black hole. We have developed a new code to predict astrometric motion and flux variability from compact emission regions following particle orbits. Our code combines semi-analytic calculations of timelike geodesics that allow for out-of-plane or elliptical motions with ray tracing of photon trajectories to compute time-dependent images and light curves. We apply our code to the three flares observed with GRAVITY in 2018. We show that all flares are consistent with a hotspot orbiting at R ∼ 9 gravitational radii with an inclination of i ∼ 140°. The emitting region must be compact and less than ∼5 gravitational radii in diameter. We place a further limit on the out-of-plane motion during the flare.

publication date

  • March 1, 2020

Date in CU Experts

  • January 7, 2021 10:04 AM

Full Author List

  • Bauböck M; Dexter J; Abuter R; Amorim A; Berger JP; Bonnet H; Brandner W; Clénet Y; Coudé du Foresto V; de Zeeuw PT

author count

  • 55

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0004-6361

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-0746

Additional Document Info

start page

  • A143

end page

  • A143


  • 635