Spectral and imaging properties of Sgr A from high-resolution 3D GRMHD simulations with radiative cooling

D. Yoon*, K. Chatterjee, S. B. Markoff, D. van Eijnatten, Z. Younsi, M. Liska, A. Tchekhovskoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The candidate supermassive black hole in the Galactic Centre, Sagittarius A∗ (Sgr A), is known to be fed by a radiatively inefficient accretion flow (RIAF), inferred by its low accretion rate. Consequently, radiative cooling has in general been overlooked in the study of Sgr A. However, the radiative properties of the plasma in RIAFs are poorly understood. In this work, using full 3D general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamical simulations, we study the impact of radiative cooling on the dynamical evolution of the accreting plasma, presenting spectral energy distributions and synthetic sub-millimetre images generated from the accretion flow around Sgr A. These simulations solve the approximated equations for radiative cooling processes self-consistently, including synchrotron, bremsstrahlung, and inverse Compton processes. We find that radiative cooling plays an increasingly important role in the dynamics of the accretion flow as the accretion rate increases: the mid-plane density grows and the infalling gas is less turbulent as cooling becomes stronger. The changes in the dynamical evolution become important when the accretion rate is larger than 10−8 M☉ yr−1 (≳ 10−7M. Edd, where M. Edd is the Eddington accretion rate). The resulting spectra in the cooled models also differ from those in the non-cooled models: the overall flux, including the peak values at the sub-mm and the far-UV, is slightly lower as a consequence of a decrease in the electron temperature. Our results suggest that radiative cooling should be carefully taken into account in modelling Sgr A and other low-luminosity active galactic nuclei that have a mass accretion rate of M. > 10−7 M.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3178-3192
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Accretion
  • Accretion discs
  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxies: individual: (SgrA∗)
  • MHD
  • Methods: numerical
  • Stars: jets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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