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  1. Abstract We report measurements of the gravitationally lensed secondary image—the first in an infinite series of so-called “photon rings”—around the supermassive black hole M87* via simultaneous modeling and imaging of the 2017 Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) observations. The inferred ring size remains constant across the seven days of the 2017 EHT observing campaign and is consistent with theoretical expectations, providing clear evidence that such measurements probe spacetime and a striking confirmation of the models underlying the first set of EHT results. The residual diffuse emission evolves on timescales comparable to one week. We are able to detect with high significance a southwestern extension consistent with that expected from the base of a jet that is rapidly rotating in the clockwise direction. This result adds further support to the identification of the jet in M87* with a black hole spin-driven outflow, launched via the Blandford–Znajek process. We present three revised estimates for the mass of M87* based on identifying the modeled thin ring component with the bright ringlike features seen in simulated images, one of which is only weakly sensitive to the astrophysics of the emission region. All three estimates agree with each other and previously reported values. Our strongest massmore »constraint combines information from both the ring and the diffuse emission region, which together imply a mass-to-distance ratio of 4.20 − 0.06 + 0.12 μ as and a corresponding black hole mass of (7.13 ± 0.39) × 10 9 M ⊙ , where the error on the latter is now dominated by the systematic uncertainty arising from the uncertain distance to M87*.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  2. The key idea of current deep learning methods for dense prediction is to apply a model on a regular patch centered on each pixel to make pixel-wise predictions. These methods are limited in the sense that the patches are determined by network architecture instead of learned from data. In this work, we propose the dense transformer networks, which can learn the shapes and sizes of patches from data. The dense transformer networks employ an encoder-decoder architecture, and a pair of dense transformer modules are inserted into each of the encoder and decoder paths. The novelty of this work is that we provide technical solutions for learning the shapes and sizes of patches from data and efficiently restoring the spatial correspondence required for dense prediction. The proposed dense transformer modules are differentiable, thus the entire network can be trained. We apply the proposed networks on biological image segmentation tasks and show superior performance is achieved in comparison to baseline methods.

  3. ABSTRACT

    In the time domain, the radio sky in particular along the Galactic plane direction may vary significantly because of various energetic activities associated with stars, stellar, and supermassive black holes. Multi-epoch Very Large Array surveys of the Galactic plane at 5.0 GHz enabled the finding of a catalogue of 39 variable radio sources in the flux density range 1–70 mJy. To probe their radio structures and spectra, we observed 17 sources with the very-long-baseline interferometric (VLBI) imaging technique and collected additional multifrequency data from the literature. We detected all of the sources at 5 GHz with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, but only G23.6644–0.0372 with the European VLBI Network (EVN). Together with its decadal variability and multifrequency radio spectrum, we interpret it as an extragalactic peaked-spectrum source with a size of ≲10 pc. The remaining sources were resolved out by the long baselines of the EVN because of either strong scatter broadening at the Galactic latitude < 1° or intrinsically very extended structures on centi-arcsec scales. According to their spectral and structural properties, we find that the sample has a diverse nature. We notice two young H ii regions and spot a radio star and a candidate planetary nebula. The rest of the sourcesmore »are very likely associated with radio active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Two of them also display arcsec-scale faint jet activity. The sample study indicates that AGNs are common place even among variable radio sources in the Galactic plane.

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  4. Abstract The blazar J1924–2914 is a primary Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) calibrator for the Galactic center’s black hole Sagittarius A*. Here we present the first total and linearly polarized intensity images of this source obtained with the unprecedented 20 μ as resolution of the EHT. J1924–2914 is a very compact flat-spectrum radio source with strong optical variability and polarization. In April 2017 the source was observed quasi-simultaneously with the EHT (April 5–11), the Global Millimeter VLBI Array (April 3), and the Very Long Baseline Array (April 28), giving a novel view of the source at four observing frequencies, 230, 86, 8.7, and 2.3 GHz. These observations probe jet properties from the subparsec to 100 pc scales. We combine the multifrequency images of J1924–2914 to study the source morphology. We find that the jet exhibits a characteristic bending, with a gradual clockwise rotation of the jet projected position angle of about 90° between 2.3 and 230 GHz. Linearly polarized intensity images of J1924–2914 with the extremely fine resolution of the EHT provide evidence for ordered toroidal magnetic fields in the blazar compact core.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  5. Abstract Recent developments in very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) have made it possible for the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) to resolve the innermost accretion flows of the largest supermassive black holes on the sky. The sparse nature of the EHT’s ( u , v )-coverage presents a challenge when attempting to resolve highly time-variable sources. We demonstrate that the changing ( u , v )-coverage of the EHT can contain regions of time over the course of a single observation that facilitate dynamical imaging. These optimal time regions typically have projected baseline distributions that are approximately angularly isotropic and radially homogeneous. We derive a metric of coverage quality based on baseline isotropy and density that is capable of ranking array configurations by their ability to produce accurate dynamical reconstructions. We compare this metric to existing metrics in the literature and investigate their utility by performing dynamical reconstructions on synthetic data from simulated EHT observations of sources with simple orbital variability. We then use these results to make recommendations for imaging the 2017 EHT Sgr A* data set.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  6. Abstract The extraordinary physical resolution afforded by the Event Horizon Telescope has opened a window onto the astrophysical phenomena unfolding on horizon scales in two known black holes, M87 * and Sgr A*. However, with this leap in resolution has come a new set of practical complications. Sgr A* exhibits intraday variability that violates the assumptions underlying Earth aperture synthesis, limiting traditional image reconstruction methods to short timescales and data sets with very sparse ( u , v ) coverage. We present a new set of tools to detect and mitigate this variability. We develop a data-driven, model-agnostic procedure to detect and characterize the spatial structure of intraday variability. This method is calibrated against a large set of mock data sets, producing an empirical estimator of the spatial power spectrum of the brightness fluctuations. We present a novel Bayesian noise modeling algorithm that simultaneously reconstructs an average image and statistical measure of the fluctuations about it using a parameterized form for the excess variance in the complex visibilities not otherwise explained by the statistical errors. These methods are validated using a variety of simulated data, including general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations appropriate for Sgr A* and M87 * . We findmore »that the reconstructed source structure and variability are robust to changes in the underlying image model. We apply these methods to the 2017 EHT observations of M87 * , finding evidence for variability across the EHT observing campaign. The variability mitigation strategies presented are widely applicable to very long baseline interferometry observations of variable sources generally, for which they provide a data-informed averaging procedure and natural characterization of inter-epoch image consistency.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  7. Abstract In this paper we provide a first physical interpretation for the Event Horizon Telescope's (EHT) 2017 observations of Sgr A*. Our main approach is to compare resolved EHT data at 230 GHz and unresolved non-EHT observations from radio to X-ray wavelengths to predictions from a library of models based on time-dependent general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics simulations, including aligned, tilted, and stellar-wind-fed simulations; radiative transfer is performed assuming both thermal and nonthermal electron distribution functions. We test the models against 11 constraints drawn from EHT 230 GHz data and observations at 86 GHz, 2.2 μ m, and in the X-ray. All models fail at least one constraint. Light-curve variability provides a particularly severe constraint, failing nearly all strongly magnetized (magnetically arrested disk (MAD)) models and a large fraction of weakly magnetized models. A number of models fail only the variability constraints. We identify a promising cluster of these models, which are MAD and have inclination i ≤ 30°. They have accretion rate (5.2–9.5) × 10 −9 M ⊙ yr −1 , bolometric luminosity (6.8–9.2) × 10 35 erg s −1 , and outflow power (1.3–4.8) × 10 38 erg s −1 . We also find that all models with i ≥more »70° fail at least two constraints, as do all models with equal ion and electron temperature; exploratory, nonthermal model sets tend to have higher 2.2 μ m flux density; and the population of cold electrons is limited by X-ray constraints due to the risk of bremsstrahlung overproduction. Finally, we discuss physical and numerical limitations of the models, highlighting the possible importance of kinetic effects and duration of the simulations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  8. Abstract We present a framework for characterizing the spatiotemporal power spectrum of the variability expected from the horizon-scale emission structure around supermassive black holes, and we apply this framework to a library of general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulations and associated general relativistic ray-traced images relevant for Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) observations of Sgr A*. We find that the variability power spectrum is generically a red-noise process in both the temporal and spatial dimensions, with the peak in power occurring on the longest timescales and largest spatial scales. When both the time-averaged source structure and the spatially integrated light-curve variability are removed, the residual power spectrum exhibits a universal broken power-law behavior. On small spatial frequencies, the residual power spectrum rises as the square of the spatial frequency and is proportional to the variance in the centroid of emission. Beyond some peak in variability power, the residual power spectrum falls as that of the time-averaged source structure, which is similar across simulations; this behavior can be naturally explained if the variability arises from a multiplicative random field that has a steeper high-frequency power-law index than that of the time-averaged source structure. We briefly explore the ability of power spectral variability studiesmore »to constrain physical parameters relevant for the GRMHD simulations, which can be scaled to provide predictions for black holes in a range of systems in the optically thin regime. We present specific expectations for the behavior of the M87* and Sgr A* accretion flows as observed by the EHT.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  9. Abstract In this paper we quantify the temporal variability and image morphology of the horizon-scale emission from Sgr A*, as observed by the EHT in 2017 April at a wavelength of 1.3 mm. We find that the Sgr A* data exhibit variability that exceeds what can be explained by the uncertainties in the data or by the effects of interstellar scattering. The magnitude of this variability can be a substantial fraction of the correlated flux density, reaching ∼100% on some baselines. Through an exploration of simple geometric source models, we demonstrate that ring-like morphologies provide better fits to the Sgr A* data than do other morphologies with comparable complexity. We develop two strategies for fitting static geometric ring models to the time-variable Sgr A* data; one strategy fits models to short segments of data over which the source is static and averages these independent fits, while the other fits models to the full data set using a parametric model for the structural variability power spectrum around the average source structure. Both geometric modeling and image-domain feature extraction techniques determine the ring diameter to be 51.8 ± 2.3 μ as (68% credible intervals), with the ring thickness constrained to have anmore »FWHM between ∼30% and 50% of the ring diameter. To bring the diameter measurements to a common physical scale, we calibrate them using synthetic data generated from GRMHD simulations. This calibration constrains the angular size of the gravitational radius to be 4.8 − 0.7 + 1.4 μ as, which we combine with an independent distance measurement from maser parallaxes to determine the mass of Sgr A* to be 4.0 − 0.6 + 1.1 × 10 6 M ⊙ .« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023