Spacetime Tomography Using the Event Horizon Telescope

Paul Tiede, Hung Yi Pu, Avery E. Broderick, Roman Gold, Mansour Karami, Jorge A. Preciado-López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


We have now entered a new era of high-resolution imaging astronomy with the beginning of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). The EHT can resolve the dynamics of matter in the immediate vicinity around black holes at and below the horizon scale. One of the candidate black holes, Sagittarius A∗, flares 1-4 times a day depending on the wavelength. A possible interpretation of these flares could be hotspots generated through magnetic-reconnection events in the accretion flow. In this paper, we construct a semi-analytical model for hotspots that includes the effects of shearing as a spot moves along the accretion flow. We then explore the ability of the EHT to recover these hotspots. Even including significant systematic uncertainties, such as thermal noise, diffractive scattering, and background emission due to an accretion disk, we were able to recover the hotspots and spacetime structure to sub-percent precision. Moreover, by observing multiple flaring events we show how the EHT could be used to tomographically map spacetime. This provides new avenues for testing relativistic fluid dynamics and general relativity near the event horizon of supermassive black holes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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