We report on the submillimeter properties of Sgr A* derived from observations with the Submillimeter Array and its polarimeter. We ftid that the spectrum of Sgr A* between 230 and 690 GHz is slightly decreasing when measured simultaneously, indicating a transition to optically thin emission around 300-400 GHz. We also present very sensitive and well calibrated measurements of the polarization of Sgr A* at 230 and 345 GHz. With these data we are able to show for the frst time that the polarization of Sgr A* varies on hour timescales, as has been observed for the total intensity. On one night we fhd variability that may arise from a polarized "blob" orbiting the black hole. Finally, we use the ensemble of observations to determine the rotation measure. This represents the frst statistically significant rotation measure determination and the only one made without resorting to comparing position angles measured at separate epochs. We frid a rotation measure of (-5.6 0.7) × 105 rad m2, with no evidence for variability on inter-day timescales at the level of the measurement error. The stability constrains interday flictuations in the accretion rate to 8%. The mean intrinsic polarization position angle is 167°7° and we detect variations of 31+18-9 degrees. This separation of intrinsic polarization changes and possible rotation measure flictuations is now possible because of the frequency coverage and sensitivity of our data. The observable rotation measure restricts the accretion rate to the range 2 × 10-7 M yr-1 to 2 × 10-9 M yr-1, if the magnetic ffeld is near equipartition and ordered.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)