Multiple accretion events as a trigger for Sagittarius A* activity
Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre, Bartycka 18,
2 Astronomical Institute, Academy of Sciences, Boční II 1401, 14100 Prague, Czech Republic
3 Harish Chandra Research Institute, 211019 Allahabad, India
Accepted: 13 May 2013
Context. Gas clouds are present in the Galactic centre, where they orbit around the supermassive black hole. Collisions between these clumps reduce their angular momentum, and as a result some of the clumps are set on a plunging trajectory. Constraints can be imposed on the nature of past accretion events based on the currently observed X-ray reflection from the molecular clouds surrounding the Galactic centre.
Aims. We discuss accretion of clouds in the context of enhanced activity of Sagittarius A* during the past few hundred years. We put forward a scenario according to which gas clouds bring material close to the horizon of the black hole on ≲0.1 parsec scale.
Methods. We have modelled the source intrinsic luminosity assuming that multiple events occur at various moments in time. These events are characterized by the amount of accreted material and the distribution of angular momentum. We parameterized the activity in the form of a sequence of discrete events, followed the viscous evolution, and calculated the luminosity of the system from the time-dependent accretion rate across the inner boundary.
Results. Accreting clumps settle near a circularization radius, spread there during the viscous time, and subsequently feed the black hole over a certain period. A significant enhancement (by factor of ten) of the luminosity is only expected if the viscous timescale of the inflow is very short. On the other hand, the increase in source activity is expected to be much less prominent if the latter timescale is longer and a considerable fraction of the material does not reach the centre.
Conclusions. A solution is obtained under two additional assumptions: (i) the radiative efficiency is a decreasing function of the Eddington ratio; (ii) the viscous decay of the luminosity proceeds somewhat faster than the canonical L(t) ∝ t− 5/3 profile. We applied our scheme to the case of G2 cloud in the Galactic centre to obtain constraints on the core-less gaseous cloud model.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / black hole physics / Galaxy: center
© ESO, 2013