Accretion of magnetized stellar winds in the Galactic centre: Implications for Sgr A∗ and PSR J1745-2900

S. M. Ressler, E. Quataert, J. M. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The observed rotation measures (RMs) towards the Galactic centre magnetar and towards Sagittarius A∗ provide a strong constraint on MHD models of the Galactic centre accretion flow, probing distances from the black hole separated by many orders of magnitude. We show, using three-dimensional simulations of accretion via magnetized stellar winds of the Wolf-Rayet stars orbiting the black hole, that the large, time-variable RM observed for the pulsar PSR J1745-2900 can be explained by magnetized wind-wind shocks of nearby stars in the clockwise stellar disc. In the same simulation, both the total X-ray luminosity integrated over 2-10 arcsec, the time variability of the magnetar's dispersion measure, and the RM towards Sagittarius A∗ are consistent with observations. We argue that (in order for the large RM of the pulsar to not be a priori unlikely) the pulsar should be on an orbit that keeps it near the clockwise disc of stars. We present a two-dimensional RM map of the central 1/2 parsec of the Galactic centre that can be used to test our models. Our simulations predict that Sgr A∗ is typically accreting a significantly ordered magnetic field that ultimately could result in a strongly magnetized flow with flux threading the horizon at ∼10 per cent of the magnetically arrested limit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L123-L128
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • (magnetohydrodynamics) MHD
  • Galaxy: centre
  • accretion, accretion discs
  • black hole physics
  • polarization
  • stars: Wolf-Rayet


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