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  1. While supermassive black-hole masses have been cataloged across cosmic time, only a few dozen of them have robust spin measurements. By extending and improving the existing Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) array, the next-generation Event Horizon Telescope (ngEHT) will enable multifrequency, polarimetric movies on event-horizon scales, which will place new constraints on the space-time and accretion flow. By combining this information, it is anticipated that the ngEHT may be able to measure tens of supermassive black-hole masses and spins. In this white paper, we discuss existing spin measurements and many proposed techniques with which the ngEHT could potentially measure spins of target supermassive black holes. Spins measured by the ngEHT would represent a completely new sample of sources that, unlike pre-existing samples, would not be biased towards objects with high accretion rates. Such a sample would provide new insights into the accretion, feedback, and cosmic assembly of supermassive black holes.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  2. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration has successfully produced images of two supermassive black holes, enabling novel tests of black holes and their accretion flows on horizon scales. The EHT has so far published total intensity and linear polarization images, while upcoming images may include circular polarization, rotation measure, and spectral index, each of which reveals different aspects of the plasma and space-time. The next-generation EHT (ngEHT) will greatly enhance these studies through wider recorded bandwidths and additional stations, leading to greater signal-to-noise, orders of magnitude improvement in dynamic range, multi-frequency observations, and horizon-scale movies. In this paper, we review how each of these different observables informs us about the underlying properties of the plasma and the spacetime, and we discuss why polarimetric studies are well-suited to measurements with sparse, long-baseline coverage.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  3. Tidal disruption events (TDEs) around supermassive black holes (SMBHs) are a potential laboratory to study super-Eddington accretion disks and sometimes result in powerful jets or outflows which may shine in the radio and sub-millimeter bands. In this work, we modeled the thermal synchrotron emission of jets by general relativistic radiation magneto-hydrodynamics (GRRMHD) simulations of a BH accretion disk/jet system which assumed the TDE resulted in a magnetized accretion disk around a BH accreting at ∼12–25 times the Eddington accretion rate. Through synthetic observations with the Next Generation Event Horizon Telescope (ngEHT) and an image reconstruction analysis, we demonstrate that TDE jets may provide compelling targets within the context of the models explored in this work. In particular, we found that jets launched by a SANE super-Eddington disk around a spin a*=0.9 reach the ngEHT detection threshold at large distances (up to 100 Mpc in this work). A two-temperature plasma in the jet or weaker jets, such as a spin a*=0 model, requires a much closer distance, as we demonstrate detection at 10 Mpc for limiting cases of a*=0,R=1 or a*=0.9,R=20. We also demonstrate that TDE jets may appear as superluminal sources if the BH is rapidly rotating and the jetmore »is viewed nearly face on.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023

    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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  5. Abstract

    Objects orbiting in the presence of a rotating massive body experience a gravitomagnetic frame-dragging effect, known as the Lense-Thirring effect, that has been experimentally confirmed in the weak-field limit. In the strong-field limit, near the horizon of a rotating black hole, frame dragging becomes so extreme that all objects must co-rotate with the black hole’s angular momentum. In this work, we perform general relativistic numerical simulations to identify observable signatures of frame dragging in the strong-field limit that appear when infalling gas is forced to flip its direction of rotation as it is being accreted. In total intensity images, infalling streams exhibit “S”-shaped features due to the switch in the tangential velocity. In linear polarization, a flip in the handedness of spatially resolved polarization ticks as a function of radius encodes a transition in the magnetic field geometry that occurs due to magnetic flux freezing in the dragged plasma. Using a network of telescopes around the world, the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration has demonstrated that it is now possible to directly image black holes on event horizon scales. We show that the phenomena described in this work would be accessible to the next-generation Event Horizon Telescope and extensions ofmore »the array into space, which would produce spatially resolved images on event horizon scales with higher spatial resolution and dynamic range.

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  6. 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
  7. Abstract

    The driving of turbulence in galaxies is deeply connected with the physics of feedback, star formation, outflows, accretion, and radial transport in disks. The velocity dispersion of gas in galaxies therefore offers a promising observational window into these processes. However, the relative importance of each of these mechanisms remains controversial. In this work we revisit the possibility that turbulence on galactic scales is driven by the direct impact of accreting gaseous material on the disk. We measure this effect in a disk-like star-forming galaxy in IllustrisTNG, using the high-resolution cosmological magnetohydrodynamical simulation TNG50. We employ Lagrangian tracer particles with a high time cadence of only a few million years to identify accretion and other events. The energies of particles are measured by stacking the events in bins of time around the event. The average effect of each event is measured by fitting explicit models for the kinetic and turbulent energies as a function of time. These measurements are corroborated by cross-correlating the turbulent energy with other time series and searching for signals of causality, i.e., asymmetries across zero time lag. We find that accretion contributes to the large-scale turbulent kinetic energy even if it does not dominate in thismore »∼5 × 109Mstellar mass galaxy. Extrapolating this finding to a range of galaxy masses, we find that there are regimes where energy from direct accretion may dominate the turbulent energy budget, particularly in disk outskirts, galaxies less massive than the Milky Way, and at redshift ∼2.

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  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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