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Title: Toward Determining the Number of Observable Supermassive Black Hole Shadows
Abstract We present estimates for the number of shadow-resolved supermassive black hole (SMBH) systems that can be detected using radio interferometers, as a function of angular resolution, flux density sensitivity, and observing frequency. Accounting for the distribution of SMBHs across mass, redshift, and accretion rate, we use a new semianalytic spectral energy distribution model to derive the number of SMBHs with detectable and optically thin horizon-scale emission. We demonstrate that (sub)millimeter interferometric observations with ∼0.1 μ as resolution and ∼1 μ Jy sensitivity could access >10 6 SMBH shadows. We then further decompose the shadow source counts into the number of black holes for which we could expect to observe the first- and second-order lensed photon rings. Accessing the bulk population of first-order photon rings requires ≲2 μ as resolution and ≲0.5 mJy sensitivity, whereas doing the same for second-order photon rings requires ≲0.1 μ as resolution and ≲5 μ Jy sensitivity. Our model predicts that with modest improvements to sensitivity, as many as ∼5 additional horizon-resolved sources should become accessible to the current Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), whereas a next-generation EHT observing at 345 GHz should have access to ∼3 times as many sources. More generally, our results can more » help guide enhancements of current arrays and specifications for future interferometric experiments that aim to spatially resolve a large population of SMBH shadows or higher-order photon rings. « less
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Award ID(s):
1935980 1816420 1743747
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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