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Journal Articles The Astrophysical Journal Year : 2010

Time-Dependent Models of Flares from Sagittarius A

Katie Dodds-Eden
  • Function : Author
Prateek Sharma
  • Function : Author
Eliot Quataert
  • Function : Author
Reinhard Genzel
Stefan Gillessen
  • Function : Author
Frank Eisenhauer
  • Function : Author


The emission from Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole in the Galactic Center, shows order of magnitude variability ("flares") a few times a day that is particularly prominent in the near-infrared (NIR) and X-rays. We present a time-dependent model for these flares motivated by the hypothesis that dissipation of magnetic energy powers the flares. We show that episodic magnetic reconnection can occur near the last stable circular orbit in time-dependent magnetohydrodynamic simulations of black hole accretion—the timescales and energetics of these events are broadly consistent with the flares from Sgr A*. Motivated by these results, we present a spatially one-zone time-dependent model for the electron distribution function in flares, including energy loss due to synchrotron cooling and adiabatic expansion. Synchrotron emission from transiently accelerated particles can explain the NIR/X-ray light curves and spectra of a luminous flare observed on 2007 April 4. A significant decrease in the magnetic field strength during the flare (coincident with the electron acceleration) is required to explain the simultaneity and symmetry of the simultaneous light curves. Our models predict that the NIR and X-ray spectral indices are related by Δα ~= 0.5 (where νF ν vprop να) and that there is only modest variation in the spectral index during flares. We also explore implications of this model for longer wavelength (radio-submillimeter) emission seemingly associated with X-ray and NIR flares; we argue that a few hour decrease in the submillimeter emission is a more generic consequence of large-scale magnetic reconnection than delayed radio emission from adiabatic expansion.

Dates and versions

insu-03625620 , version 1 (31-03-2022)



Katie Dodds-Eden, Prateek Sharma, Eliot Quataert, Reinhard Genzel, Stefan Gillessen, et al.. Time-Dependent Models of Flares from Sagittarius A. The Astrophysical Journal, 2010, 725, pp.450-465. ⟨10.1088/0004-637X/725/1/450⟩. ⟨insu-03625620⟩
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