Near-Infrared Polarimetry of Flares from Sgr A* with Subaru/CIAO

Nishiyama, Shogo; Tamura, Motohide; Hatano, Hirofumi; Nagata, Tetsuya; Kudo, Tomoyuki; Ishii, Miki; Schödel, Rainer; Eckart, Andreas
The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 702, Issue 1, pp. L56-L60 (2009).


We have performed near-infrared (NIR) monitoring observations of Sgr A*, the Galactic center radio source associated with a supermassive black hole, with the NIR camera CIAO and the 36 element adaptive optics system on the Subaru telescope. We observed three flares in the KS band (2.15 μm) during 220 minutes monitoring on 2008 May 28, and confirmed the flare emission is highly polarized, supporting the synchrotron radiation nature of the NIR emission. Clear variations in the degree and position angle of polarization were also detected: an increase of the degree of polarization of about 20%, and a swing of the position angle of ~60°-70° in the declining phase of the flares. The correlation between the flux and the degree of polarization can be well explained by the flare emission coming from hotspot(s) orbiting Sgr A*. Comparison with calculations in the literature gives a constraint to the inclination angle i of the orbit of the hotspot around Sgr A*, as 45° <= i < 90° (close to edge-on).