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Title: Expanding Sgr A* dynamical imaging capabilities with an African extension to the Event Horizon Telescope

Context.The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has recently published the first images of the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). Imaging Sgr A* is plagued by two major challenges: variability on short (approximately minutes) timescales and interstellar scattering along our line of sight. While the scattering is well studied, the source variability continues to push the limits of current imaging algorithms. In particular, movie reconstructions are hindered by the sparse and time-variable coverage of the array.

Aims.In this paper, we study the impact of the planned Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT, in Namibia) and Canary Islands telescope (CNI) additions to the time-dependent coverage and imaging fidelity of the EHT array. This African array addition to the EHT further increases the eastwest (u, v) coverage and provides a wider time window to perform high-fidelity movie reconstructions of Sgr A*.

Methods.We generated synthetic observations of Sgr A*’s accretion flow and used dynamical imaging techniques to create movie reconstructions of the source. To test the fidelity of our results, we used one general-relativistic magneto-hydrodynamic model of the accretion flow and jet to represent the quiescent state and one semi-analytic model of an orbiting hotspot to represent the flaring state.

Results.We found that the addition of the AMT alone offers a significant increase in the (u, v) coverage, leading to robust averaged images during the first hours of the observating track. Moreover, we show that the combination of two telescopes on the African continent, in Namibia and in the Canary Islands, produces a very sensitive array to reconstruct the variability of Sgr A* on horizon scales.

Conclusions.We conclude that the African expansion to the EHT increases the fidelity of high-resolution movie reconstructions of Sgr A* to study gas dynamics near the event horizon.

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Astronomy & Astrophysics
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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