Wednesday, July 24, 2013

1307.5843 (J. Neilsen et al.)

A Chandra/HETGS Census of X-ray Variability From Sgr A* During 2012    [PDF]

J. Neilsen, M. A. Nowak, C. Gammie, J. Dexter, S. Markoff, D. Haggard, S. Nayakshin, Q. D. Wang, N. Grosso, D. Porquet, J. A. Tomsick, N. Degenaar, P. C. Fragile, R. Wijnands, J. M. Miller, F. K. Baganoff
We present the first systematic analysis of the X-ray variability of Sgr A* during the Chandra X-ray Observatory's 2012 Sgr A* X-ray Visionary Project (XVP). With 38 High Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer (HETGS) observations spaced an average of 7 days apart, this unprecedented campaign enables detailed study of the X-ray emission from this supermassive black hole at high spatial, spectral and timing resolution. In 3 Ms of observations, we detect 39 X-ray flares from Sgr A*, lasting from a few hundred seconds to approximately 8 ks, and ranging in 2-10 keV luminosity from ~1e34 erg/s to 2e35 erg/s. Despite tentative evidence for a gap in the distribution of flare peak count rates, there is no evidence for X-ray color differences between faint and bright flares. Our preliminary X-ray flare luminosity distribution dN/dL is consistent with a power law with index -1.9 (+0.3 -0.4); this is similar to some estimates of Sgr A*'s NIR flux distribution. The observed flares contribute one-third of the total X-ray output of Sgr A* during the campaign, and as much as 10% of the quiescent X-ray emission could be comprised of weak, undetected flares, which may also contribute high-frequency variability. We argue that flares may be the only source of X-ray emission from the inner accretion flow.
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