EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 455, Number 1, August III 2006
Page(s) 1 - 10
Section Astrophysical processes
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20064948

A&A 455, 1-10 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20064948

Polarimetry of near-infrared flares from Sagittarius A*

A. Eckart1, R. Schödel1, L. Meyer1, S. Trippe2, T. Ott2 and R. Genzel2, 3

1  I.Physikalisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Str. 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
    e-mail: eckart@ph1.uni-koeln.de
2  Max Planck Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraße, 85748 Garching, Germany
3  Physics Department, University of California at Berkeley, Le Conte Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

(Received 1 February 2006 / Accepted 31 March 2006)

Context.We report new polarization measurements of the variable near-infrared emission of the SgrA* counterpart associated with the massive 3- $4\times10^6$ $M_{\odot}$ Black Hole at the Galactic Center.
Aims.We investigate the physical processes responsible for the variable emission from SgrA*.
Methods.The observations have been carried out using the NACO adaptive optics (AO) instrument at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.
Results.We find that the variable NIR emission of SgrA* is highly polarized and consists of a contribution of a non- or weakly polarized main flare with highly polarized sub-flares. The flare activity shows a possible quasi-periodicity of $20\pm3$ min consistent with previous observations.
Conclusions.The highly variable and polarized emission supports that the NIR emission is non-thermal. The observations can be interpreted in a jet or temporary disk model. In the disk model the quasi-periodic flux density variations can be explained by spots on relativistic orbits around the central MBH. Alternative explanations for the high central mass concentration involving boson or fermion balls are increasingly unlikely.

Key words: black hole physics -- infrared: general -- accretion, accretion disks -- Galaxy: center -- Galaxy: nucleus

© ESO 2006

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