An unusual object, G2, had its pericenter passage around Sgr A*, the 4 × 106 M ⊙ supermassive black hole in the Galactic Center, in Summer 2014. Several research teams have reported evidence that, following G2's pericenter encounter, the rate of Sgr A*'s bright X-ray flares increased significantly. Our analysis carefully treats varying flux contamination from a nearby magnetic neutron star and is free from complications induced by using data from multiple X-ray observatories with different spatial resolutions. We test the scenario of an increased bright X-ray flaring rate using a massive data set from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the only X-ray instrument that can spatially distinguish between Sgr A* and the nearby Galactic Center magnetar throughout the full extended period encompassing G2's encounter with Sgr A*. We use X-ray data from the 3 Ms observations of the Chandra X-ray Visionary Program (XVP) in 2012, as well as an additional 1.5 Ms of observations up to 2018. We use detected flares to make distributions of flare properties. Using simulations of X-ray flares accounting for important factors such as the different Chandra instrument modes, we test the null hypothesis on Sgr A*'s bright (or any flare category) X-ray flaring rate around different potential change points. In contrast to previous studies, our results are consistent with the null hypothesis; the same model parameters produce distributions consistent with the observed ones around any plausible change point.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- October 2019
- X-ray astronomy;
- Supermassive black holes;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies;
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena