Event-horizon-scale structure in the supermassive black hole candidate at the Galactic Centre

Sheperd S. Doeleman, Jonathan Weintroub, Alan E.E. Rogers, Richard Plambeck, Robert Freund, Remo P.J. Tilanus, Per Friberg, Lucy M. Ziurys, James M. Moran, Brian Corey, Ken H. Young, Daniel L. Smythe, Michael Titus, Daniel P. Marrone, Roger J. Cappallo, Douglas C.J. Bock, Geoffrey C. Bower, Richard Chamberlin, Gary R. Davis, Thomas P. KrichbaumJames Lamb, Holly Maness, Arthur E. Niell, Alan Roy, Peter Strittmatter, Daniel Werthimer, Alan R. Whitney, David Woody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

491 Scopus citations

Abstract

The cores of most galaxies are thought to harbour supermassive black holes, which power galactic nuclei by converting the gravitational energy of accreting matter into radiation. Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the compact source of radio, infrared and X-ray emission at the centre of the Milky Way, is the closest example of this phenomenon, with an estimated black hole mass that is 4,000,000 times that of the Sun. A long-standing astronomical goal is to resolve structures in the innermost accretion flow surrounding Sgr A*, where strong gravitational fields will distort the appearance of radiation emitted near the black hole. Radio observations at wavelengths of 3.5 mm and 7 mm have detected intrinsic structure in Sgr A*, but the spatial resolution of observations at these wavelengths is limited by interstellar scattering. Here we report observations at a wavelength of 1.3 mm that set a size of microarcseconds on the intrinsic diameter of Sgr A*. This is less than the expected apparent size of the event horizon of the presumed black hole, suggesting that the bulk of Sgr A* emission may not be centred on the black hole, but arises in the surrounding accretion flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-80
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume455
Issue number7209
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 4 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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    Doeleman, S. S., Weintroub, J., Rogers, A. E. E., Plambeck, R., Freund, R., Tilanus, R. P. J., Friberg, P., Ziurys, L. M., Moran, J. M., Corey, B., Young, K. H., Smythe, D. L., Titus, M., Marrone, D. P., Cappallo, R. J., Bock, D. C. J., Bower, G. C., Chamberlin, R., Davis, G. R., ... Woody, D. (2008). Event-horizon-scale structure in the supermassive black hole candidate at the Galactic Centre. Nature, 455(7209), 78-80. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07245