Clocks around Sgr A*


The S stars near the Galactic centre and any pulsars that may be on similar orbits, can be modelled in a unified way as clocks orbiting a black hole, and hence are potential probes of relativistic effects, including black hole spin. The high eccentricities of many S stars mean that relativistic effects peak strongly around pericentre; for example, orbit precession is not a smooth effect but almost a kick at pericentre. We argue that concentration around pericentre will be an advantage when analysing redshift or pulse-arrival data to measure relativistic effects, because cumulative precession will be drowned out by Newtonian perturbations from other mass in the Galactic-centre region. Wavelet decomposition may be a way to disentangle relativistic effects from Newton perturbations. Assuming a plausible model for Newtonian perturbations on S2, relativity appears to be strongest in a two-year interval around pericentre, in wavelet modes of timescale approximately 6 months.Comment: Accepted for publication in MNRA

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