Polarimetric imaging of the massive black hole at the galactic center

Benjamin C. Bromley, Fulvio Melia, Siming Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


The radio source Sagittarius A* in the Galactic center emits a polarized spectrum at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths that is strongly suggestive of relativistic disk accretion onto a massive black hole. We use the well-constrained mass of Sgr A* and a magnetohydrodynamic model of the accretion flow to match both the total flux and polarization from this object. Our results demonstrate explicitly that the shift in the position angle of the polarization vector, seen at wavelengths near the peak of the millimeter to submillimeter emission from this source, is a signal of relativistic accretion flow in a strong gravitational field. We provide maps of the polarized emission to illustrate how the images of polarized intensity from the vicinity of the black hole would appear in upcoming observations with very long baseline radio interferometers (VLBIs). Our results suggest that near-term VLBI observations will be able to directly image the polarized Keplerian portion of the flow near the horizon of the black hole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L83-L86
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2001


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxy: center
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Magnetic fields
  • Radiation mechanisms: nonthermal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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