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The Link Between Warm Molecular Disks in Maser Nuclei and Star Formation Near the Black Hole at the Galactic Center

By M Milosavljevic and A Loeb


The discovery of hundreds of young, bright stars within a parsec from the massive black hole at the center of the Galaxy presents a challenge to star formation theories. The requisite Roche densities for gravitational collapse of gas clouds are most naturally achieved in accretion disks. The water maser sources in Keplerian rotation in the nuclei of NGC4258, NGC1068, and the Circinus Galaxy indicate the presence of warm, extended, molecular accretion disks around black holes similar in mass to the Galactic black hole. We here argue that the current conditions in the maser nuclei, and those near the Galactic center, represent two consecutive, recurrent phases in the life cycle of the nucleus of a typical gas-rich spiral bulge. The warm molecular disks that give rise to the observed maser emission fragment into stellar-size objects. The stellar masses, their orbital geometry, and the total number of stars thus formed are consistent with the values identified at the Galactic Center. The stars tend to form in compact groups resembling the IRS 13 complex that dominates the stellar light in the neighborhood of the black hole

Topics: Astrophysics and Astronomy
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1086/383467
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Provided by: CERN Document Server
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