Approaching the event horizon: 1.3mm VLBI of SgrA*

Doeleman, Sheperd S.
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Advances in VLBI instrumentation now allow wideband recording that significantly increases the sensitivity of short wavelength VLBI observations. Observations of the super-massive black hole candidate at the center of the Milky Way, SgrA*, with short wavelength VLBI reduces the scattering effects of the intervening interstellar medium, allowing observations with angular resolution comparable to the apparent size of the event horizon of the putative black hole. Observations in April 2007 at a wavelength of 1.3mm on a three station VLBI array have now confirmed structure in SgrA* on scales of just a few Schwarzschild radii. When modeled as a circular Gaussian, the fitted diameter of SgrA* is 37 micro arcsec (+16,-10; 3-sigma), which is smaller than the expected apparent size of the event horizon of the Galactic Center black hole. These observations demonstrate that mm/sub-mm VLBI is poised to open a new window onto the study of black hole physics via high angular resolution observations of the Galactic Center.
Comment: 6 pages, 4 figures, Proceedings for "The Universe under the Microscope" (AHAR 2008), held in Bad Honnef (Germany) in April 2008, to be published in Journal of Physics: Conference Series by Institute of Physics Publishing, R. Schoedel, A. Eckart, S. Pfalzner, and E. Ros (eds.)