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    We present general relativistic radiation magnetohydrodynamics (GRRMHD) simulations of super-Eddington accretion flows around supermassive black holes (SMBHs), which may apply to tidal disruption events (TDEs). We perform long duration ($t\ge 81,200\, GM/c^3$) simulations that achieve mass accretion rates ≳11 times the Eddington rate and produce thermal synchrotron spectra and images of their jets. Gas flowing beyond the funnel wall expands conically and drives a strong shock at the jet head while variable mass ejection and recollimation, along the jet axis, results in internal shocks and dissipation. Assuming the ion temperature (Ti) and electron temperature (Te) in the plasma are identical, the radio/submillimetre spectra peak at >100 GHz and the luminosity increases with BH spin, exceeding $\sim 10^{41} \, \rm {erg\, s^{-1}}$ in the brightest models. The emission is extremely sensitive to Ti/Te as some models show an order-of-magnitude decrease in the peak frequency and up to four orders-of-magnitude decline in their radio/submillimetre luminosity as Ti/Te approaches 20. Assuming a maximum VLBI baseline distance of 10 Gλ, 230 GHz images of Ti/Te = 1 models shows that the jet head may be bright enough for its motion to be captured with the EHT (ngEHT) at D ≲ 110 (180) Mpc at the 5σ significance level.more »Resolving emission from internal shocks requires D ≲ 45 Mpc for both the EHT or ngEHT.

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  2. In the past few years, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has provided the first-ever event horizon-scale images of the supermassive black holes (BHs) M87* and Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). The next-generation EHT project is an extension of the EHT array that promises larger angular resolution and higher sensitivity to the dim, extended flux around the central ring-like structure, possibly connecting the accretion flow and the jet. The ngEHT Analysis Challenges aim to understand the science extractability from synthetic images and movies to inform the ngEHT array design and analysis algorithm development. In this work, we compare the accretion flow structure and dynamics in numerical fluid simulations that specifically target M87* and Sgr A*, and were used to construct the source models in the challenge set. We consider (1) a steady-state axisymmetric radiatively inefficient accretion flow model with a time-dependent shearing hotspot, (2) two time-dependent single fluid general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulations from the H-AMR code, (3) a two-temperature GRMHD simulation from the BHAC code, and (4) a two-temperature radiative GRMHD simulation from the KORAL code. We find that the different models exhibit remarkably similar temporal and spatial properties, except for the electron temperature, since radiative losses substantially cool down electronsmore »near the BH and the jet sheath, signaling the importance of radiative cooling even for slowly accreting BHs such as M87*. We restrict ourselves to standard torus accretion flows, and leave larger explorations of alternate accretion models to future work.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  3. We explore the plasma matter content in the innermost accretion disk/jet in M87* as relevant for an enthusiastic search for the signatures of anti-matter in the next generation of the Event Horizon Telescope (ngEHT). We model the impact of non-zero positron-to-electron ratio using different emission models, including a constant electron to magnetic pressure (constant βe model) with a population of non-thermal electrons as well as an R-beta model populated with thermal electrons. In the former case, we pick a semi-analytic fit to the force-free region of a general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulation, while in the latter case, we analyze the GRMHD simulations directly. In both cases, positrons are being added at the post-processing level. We generate polarized images and spectra for some of these models and find out that at the radio frequencies, both of the linear and the circular polarizations are enhanced with every pair added. On the contrary, we show that, at higher frequencies, a substantial positron fraction washes out the circular polarization. We report strong degeneracies between different emission models and the positron fraction, though our non-thermal models show more sensitivities to the pair fraction than the thermal models. We conclude that a large theoretical image librarymore »is indeed required to fully understand the trends probed in this study, and to place them in the context of a large set of parameters which also affect polarimetric images, such as magnetic field strength, black hole spin, and detailed aspects of the electron temperature and the distribution function.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  4. The next-generation Event Horizon Telescope (ngEHT) will be a significant enhancement of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) array, with ∼10 new antennas and instrumental upgrades of existing antennas. The increased uv-coverage, sensitivity, and frequency coverage allow a wide range of new science opportunities to be explored. The ngEHT Analysis Challenges have been launched to inform the development of the ngEHT array design, science objectives, and analysis pathways. For each challenge, synthetic EHT and ngEHT datasets are generated from theoretical source models and released to the challenge participants, who analyze the datasets using image reconstruction and other methods. The submitted analysis results are evaluated with quantitative metrics. In this work, we report on the first two ngEHT Analysis Challenges. These have focused on static and dynamical models of M87* and Sgr A* and shown that high-quality movies of the extended jet structure of M87* and near-horizon hourly timescale variability of Sgr A* can be reconstructed by the reference ngEHT array in realistic observing conditions using current analysis algorithms. We identify areas where there is still room for improvement of these algorithms and analysis strategies. Other science cases and arrays will be explored in future challenges.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  5. We present a case for significantly enhancing the utility and efficiency of the ngEHT by incorporating an additional 86 GHz observing band. In contrast to 230 or 345 GHz, weather conditions at the ngEHT sites are reliably good enough for 86 GHz to enable year-round observations. Multi-frequency imaging that incorporates 86 GHz observations would sufficiently augment the (u,v) coverage at 230 and 345 GHz to permit detection of the M87 jet structure without requiring EHT stations to join the array. The general calibration and sensitivity of the ngEHT would also be enhanced by leveraging frequency phase transfer techniques, whereby simultaneous observations at 86 GHz and higher-frequency bands have the potential to increase the effective coherence times from a few seconds to tens of minutes. When observation at the higher frequencies is not possible, there are opportunities for standalone 86 GHz science, such as studies of black hole jets and spectral lines. Finally, the addition of 86 GHz capabilities to the ngEHT would enable it to integrate into a community of other VLBI facilities—such as the GMVA and ngVLA—that are expected to operate at 86 GHz but not at the higher ngEHT observing frequencies.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  6. We propose the tracing of the motion of a shearing hot spot near the Sgr A* source through a dynamical image reconstruction algorithm, StarWarps. Such a hot spot may form as the exhaust of magnetic reconnection in a current sheet near the black hole horizon. A hot spot that is ejected from the current sheet into an orbit in the accretion disk may shear and diffuse due to instabilities at its boundary during its orbit, resulting in a distinct signature. We subdivide the motion into two different phases: the first phase refers to the appearance of the hot spot modeled as a bright blob, followed by a subsequent shearing phase. We employ different observational array configurations, including EHT (2017, 2022) and the next-generation Event Horizon Telescope (ngEHTp1, ngEHT) arrays, with several new sites added, and make dynamical image reconstructions for each of them. Subsequently, we infer the hot spot angular image location in the first phase, followed by the axes ratio and the ellipse area in the second phase. We focus on the direct observability of the orbiting hot spot in the sub-mm wavelength. Our analysis demonstrates that for this particular simulation, the newly added dishes are better able tomore »trace the first phase as well as part of the second phase before the flux is reduced substantially, compared to the EHT arrays. The algorithm used in this work can be easily extended to other types of dynamics, as well as different shearing timescales. More simulations are required to prove whether the current set of newly proposed sites are sufficient to resolve any motions near variable sources, such as Sgr A*.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  7. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has led to the first images of a supermassive black hole, revealing the central compact objects in the elliptical galaxy M87 and the Milky Way. Proposed upgrades to this array through the next-generation EHT (ngEHT) program would sharply improve the angular resolution, dynamic range, and temporal coverage of the existing EHT observations. These improvements will uniquely enable a wealth of transformative new discoveries related to black hole science, extending from event-horizon-scale studies of strong gravity to studies of explosive transients to the cosmological growth and influence of supermassive black holes. Here, we present the key science goals for the ngEHT and their associated instrument requirements, both of which have been formulated through a multi-year international effort involving hundreds of scientists worldwide.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  8. Abstract The collimation of relativistic jets launched from the vicinity of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the centers of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is one of the key questions to understand the nature of AGN jets. However, little is known about the detailed jet structure for AGN like quasars since very high angular resolutions are required to resolve these objects. We present very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) observations of the archetypical quasar 3C 273 at 86 GHz, performed with the Global Millimeter VLBI Array, for the first time including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Our observations achieve a high angular resolution down to ∼60 μ as, resolving the innermost part of the jet ever on scales of ∼10 5 Schwarzschild radii. Our observations, including close-in-time High Sensitivity Array observations of 3C 273 at 15, 22, and 43 GHz, suggest that the inner jet collimates parabolically, while the outer jet expands conically, similar to jets from other nearby low-luminosity AGNs. We discovered the jet collimation break around 10 7 Schwarzschild radii, providing the first compelling evidence for structural transition in a quasar jet. The location of the collimation break for 3C 273 is farther downstream from the sphere of gravitational influencemore »(SGI) from the central SMBH. With the results for other AGN jets, our results show that the end of the collimation zone in AGN jets is governed not only by the SGI of the SMBH but also by the more diverse properties of the central nuclei.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  9. 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 ∼0.1μas resolution and ∼1μJy sensitivity could access >106SMBH 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 ≲2μas resolution and ≲0.5 mJy sensitivity, whereas doing the same for second-order photon rings requires ≲0.1μas resolution and ≲5μJy 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 help guide enhancements of current arrays and specifications for future interferometric experimentsmore »that aim to spatially resolve a large population of SMBH shadows or higher-order photon rings.

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