Volume 545, September 2012
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||10 September 2012|
The S-star cluster at the center of the Milky Way⋆
On the nature of diffuse NIR emission in the inner tenth of a parsec
I. Physikalisches Institut, Universität zu Köln,
Zülpicher Str.77, 50937
2 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
3 Department of Physics and Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
Accepted: 4 June 2012
Sagittarius A*, the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, is surrounded by a small cluster of high velocity stars, known as the S-stars. We aim to constrain the amount and nature of stellar and dark mass associated with the cluster in the immediate vicinity of Sagittarius A*. We use near-infrared imaging to determine the Ks-band luminosity function of the S-star cluster members, and the distribution of the diffuse background emission and the stellar number density counts around the central black hole. This allows us to determine the stellar light and mass contribution expected from the faint members of the cluster. We then use post-Newtonian N-body techniques to investigate the effect of stellar perturbations on the motion of S2, as a means of detecting the number and masses of the perturbers. We find that the stellar mass derived from the Ks-band luminosity extrapolation is much smaller than the amount of mass that might be present considering the uncertainties in the orbital motion of the star S2. Also the amount of light from the fainter S-cluster members is below the amount of residual light at the position of the S-star cluster after removing the bright cluster members. If the distribution of stars and stellar remnants is strongly enough peaked near Sagittarius A*, observed changes in the orbital elements of S2 can be used to constrain both their masses and numbers. Based on simulations of the cluster of high velocity stars we find that at a wavelength of 2.2 μm close to the confusion level for 8 m class telescopes blend stars will occur (preferentially near the position of Sagittarius A*) that last for typically 3 years before they dissolve due to proper motions.
Key words: Galaxy: center / infrared: general / infrared: diffuse background / stars: luminosity function, mass function / stars: kinematics and dynamics / methods: numerical
© ESO, 2012
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