Investigating the Binarity of S0-2: Implications for its Origins and Robustness as a Probe of the Laws of Gravity around a Supermassive Black Hole [SSA]

The star, S0-2, which orbits the supermassive black hole in our Galaxy with a period of 16 years, provides the strongest constraint on both the mass of the black hole and the distance to the Galactic center. S0-2 will soon also provide the first measurement of relativistic effects near a supermassive black hole. In this work, we report the first limits on the binarity of S0-2 from radial velocity monitoring, which has implications for both understanding its origin as well as its robustness as a probe of the gravitational field around the black hole. With 87 radial velocity measurements, which include 12 new observations presented here and which span 16 years, we have the data set to look for radial velocity variations from S0-2’s orbital model. Using a Lomb-Scargle analysis, we detect no radial velocity variation beyond S0-2’s orbital motion and do not find any significant periodic signal. The lack of a binary companion does not currently distinguish between different formation scenarios for S0-2. The upper limit on the mass of a companion star (M${comp}$) still allowed by our results has a median upper limit of M${comp}$ $\sin i \leq$ 1.7 M$_{\odot}$ for periods between 1 and 150 days, the longest period to avoid tidal break up of the binary. We also investigate the impact of the remaining allowed binary system on the measurement of the relativistic redshift at S0-2’s closest approach in 2018. We find such binaries can add a small systematic bias to the measurement of the relativistic redshift, but plausible binaries for S0-2 will not alter a 5$\sigma$ detection of the relativistic redshift.

Read this paper on arXiv…

D. Chu, T. Do, A. Hees, et. al.
Fri, 15 Sep 17

Comments: 9 pages, 5 figures