[1112.2151] Prospects for Probing the Spacetime of Sgr A* with Pulsars

Authors: K. Liu, N. Wex, M. Kramer, J. M. Cordes, T. J. W. Lazio

Date: 9 Dec 2011

Abstract: The discovery of radio pulsars in compact orbits around Sgr A* would allow an unprecedented and detailed investigation of the spacetime of the supermassive black hole. This paper shows that pulsar timing, including that of a single pulsar, has the potential to provide novel tests of general relativity, in particular its cosmic censorship conjecture and no-hair theorem for rotating black holes. These experiments can be performed by timing observations with 100 micro-second precision, achievable with the Square Kilometre Array for a normal pulsar at frequency above 15 GHz. Based on the standard pulsar timing technique, we develop a method that allows the determination of the mass, spin, and quadrupole moment of Sgr A*, and provides a consistent covariance analysis of the measurement errors. Furthermore, we test this method in detailed mock data simulations. It seems likely that only for orbital periods below ~0.3 yr is there the possibility of having negligible external perturbations. For such orbits we expect a ~10ˆ-3 test of the frame dragging and a ~10ˆ-2 test of the no-hair theorem within 5 years, if Sgr A* is spinning rapidly. Our method is also capable of identifying perturbations caused by distributed mass around Sgr A*, thus providing high confidence in these gravity tests. Our analysis is not affected by uncertainties in our knowledge of the distance to the Galactic center, R0. A combination of pulsar timing with the astrometric results of stellar orbits would greatly improve the measurement precision of R0.

abs pdf

Dec 20, 2011

1112.2151 (/preprints)
2011-12-20, 09:10 [edit]

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