Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: X-ray hiccups from Sagittarius A* observed by XMM-Newton: The second brightest flare and three moderate flares caught in half a day
Authors: Porquet, D.
Grosso, N.
Predehl, P.
Hasinger, G.
Aschenbach, B.
Tanaka, Y.
Genzel, R.
Dodds-Eden, K.
Yusef-Zadeh, F.
Trap, G.
Goldwurm, A.
Ferrando, P.
Trap, G.
Goldwurm, A.
Ferrando, P.
Melia, F.
Warwick, R. S.
Sakano, M.
Bélanger, G.
First Published: Sep-2008
Publisher: EDP Sciences for European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Citation: Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2008, 488 (2), pp. 549-557
Abstract: Context. Our Galaxy hosts at its dynamical center Sgr A*, the closest supermassive black hole. Surprisingly, its luminosity is several orders of magnitude lower than the Eddington luminosity. However, the recent observations of occasional rapid X-ray flares from Sgr A* provide constraints on the accretion and radiation mechanisms at work close to its event horizon. Aims. Our aim is to investigate the flaring activity of Sgr A* and to constrain the physical properties of the X-ray flares. Methods. In Spring 2007, we observed Sgr A* with XMM-Newton with a total exposure of ~230 ks. We have performed timing and spectral analysis of the new X-ray flares detected during this campaign. To study the range of flare spectral properties, in a consistent manner, we have also reprocessed, using the same analysis procedure and the latest calibration, archived XMM-Newton data of previously reported rapid flares. The dust scattering was taken into account during the spectral fitting. We also used Chandra archived observations of the quiescent state of Sgr A* for comparison. Results. On April 4, 2007, we observed for the first time within a time interval of roughly half a day, an enhanced incidence rate of X-ray flaring, with a bright flare followed by three flares of more moderate amplitude. The former event represents the second brightest X-ray flare from Sgr A* on record with a peak amplitude of about 100 above the quiescent luminosity. This new bright flare exhibits similar light-curve shape (nearly symmetrical), duration (~3 ks) and spectral characteristics to the very bright flare observed in October 3, 2002 by XMM-Newton. The measured spectral parameters of the new bright flare, assuming an absorbed power law model taken into account dust scattering effect, are $N_{\rm H}$ = $12.3^{+2.1}_{-1.8}\times 10^{22}$ cm-2 and $\Gamma$ = 2.3 $\pm$ 0.3 calculated at the 90% confidence level. The spectral parameter fits of the sum of the three following moderate flares, while lower ($N_{\rm H}$ = $8.8^{+4.4}_{-3.2} \times 10^{22}$ cm-2 and $\Gamma = 1.7^{+0.7}_{-0.6}$), are compatible within the error bars with those of the bright flares. The column density found, for a power-law model taking into account the dust scattering, during the flares is at least two times higher than the value expected from the (dust) visual extinction toward Sgr A* ($A_{\rm V}$ ~ 25 mag), i.e., 4.5 $\times$ 1022 cm-2. However, our fitting of the Sgr A* quiescent spectra obtained with Chandra, for a power-law model taking into account the dust scattering, shows that an excess of column density is already present during the non-flaring phase. Conclusions. The two brightest X-ray flares observed so far from Sgr A* exhibited similar soft spectra.
DOI Link: 10.1051/0004-6361:200809986
ISSN: 0004-6361
eISSN: 1432-0746
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2008 ESO. Reproduced with permission from Astronomy & Astrophysics, © ESO.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
aa09986-08.pdfPublished (publisher PDF)700.01 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in LRA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.