2,387 research outputs found

    The Galactic Center

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    In the past decade high resolution measurements in the infrared employing adaptive optics imaging on 10m telescopes have allowed determining the three dimensional orbits stars within ten light hours of the compact radio source at the center of the Milky Way. These observations show the presence of a three million solar mass black hole in Sagittarius A* beyond any reasonable doubt. The Galactic Center thus constitutes the best astrophysical evidence for the existence of black holes which have long been postulated, and is also an ideal `lab' for studying the physics in the vicinity of such an object. Remarkably, young massive stars are present there and probably have formed in the innermost stellar cusp. Variable infrared and X-ray emission from Sagittarius A* are a new probe of the physical processes and space-time curvature just outside the event horizon.Comment: Write up of the talk at IAU Symposium No. 238 (21-25 August 2006, Prague), to appear in Proceedings of "Black Holes: from Stars to Galaxies" (Cambridge University Press), p. 17

    Star Formation and Dynamics in the nuclei of AGN

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    Using adaptive optics on Keck and the VLT in the H- and K-bands, we have begun a project to probe the dynamics and star formation around AGN on scales of 0.1arcsec. The stellar content of the nucleus is traced through the 2.29micron CO2-0 and 1.62micron CO6-3 absorption bandheads. These features are directly spatially resolved, allowing us to measure the extent and distribution of the nuclear star forming region. The dynamics are traced through the 2.12micron H_2 1-0S(1) and 1.64micron [FeII] emission lines, as well as stellar absorption features. Matching disk models to the rotation curves at various position angles allows us to determine the mass of the stellar and gas components, and constrain the mass of the central black hole. In this contribution we summarise results for the two type~1 AGN Mkn231 and NGC7469.Comment: contribution to "The interplay among Black Holes, Stars and ISM in Galactic Nuclei", March 200

    Seyfert Activity and Nuclear Star Formation in the Circinus Galaxy

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    We present high angular resolution (0".15-0".5) near infrared images and spectroscopy of the Circinus galaxy, the closest Seyfert 2 galaxy known. The data reveal a non-stellar nuclear source at 2.2 microns. The coronal line region and the hot molecular gas emission extend for 20-50 pc in the ionization cone. The data do not show evidence for a point-like concentration of dark mass; we set an upper limit of 4*10^6 Mo to the mass of a putative black hole. We find evidence for a young nuclear stellar population, with typical ages between 4*10^7 and 1.5*10^8 yrs. The luminosity of the starburst inside a few hundred pc is comparable to the intrinsic luminosity of the Seyfert nucleus, and the two of them together account for most of the observed bolometric luminosity of the galaxy. Within the central 12 pc the starburst has an age of about 7*10^7 yrs and radiates about 2% of the luminosity of the active nucleus. We discuss the implications of these results for models that have been proposed for the starburst-AGN connection.Comment: 44 pages, Latex (including 11 Figures), Color Figures 1, 2 and 4 are available at http://www.arcetri.astro.it/~maiolino/ , ApJ in pres

    Haemoglobinopathies and newborn haemoglobinopathy screening in Germany.

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    Germany has been an immigration country since the early 1950s. In December 2007, 6.7 million non-German citizens lived in the country. However, the total number of citizens with a migration background is 15–20 million, about 9 million of whom come from countries where sickle cell disease and thalassaemias are frequent. In a country with 82 million inhabitants health authorities are not worried by the presence of probably 1000–1500 sickle cell and 450 transfusion-dependent thalassaemia patients, and therefore no screening or preventive measures have been taken so far on a national scale. There are plans for a pilot project (1 year) to screen all newborns for sickle cell disease in obstetric hospitals in 4–5 cities with more than 20% migrants. Funding and lack of an infrastructure to provide counselling are major problems

    Eddington limited starbursts in the central 10pc of AGN, and the Torus in NGC1068

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    We present results from a survey of nearby AGN using the near infrared adaptive optics integral field spectrograph SINFONI. These data enable us to probe the distribution and kinematics of the gas and stars at spatial resolutions as small as 0.085arcsec. We find strong evidence for recent but short lived starbursts residing in very dense nuclear disks. On scales of less than 10pc these would have reached Eddington-limited luminosities when active, perhaps accounting for their short duration. In addition, for NGC1068 at a resolution of 6pc, we present direct observations of molecular gas close around the AGN which we identify with the obscuring torus.Comment: Conference proceedings to appear in "The Central Engine of Active Galactic Nuclei", ed. L. C. Ho and J.-M. Wang (San Francisco: ASP

    Sgr A* ``Visual Binaries'': A Direct Measurement of the Galactocentric Distance

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    We present a new geometrical method for measuring the distance to the Galactic center (R_0) by solving for the Keplerian orbit of individual stars bound to the black hole associated with the Sgr A* from radial velocity and proper motion measurements. We identify three stars to which the method may be applied, and show that 1-5 % accuracy of R_0 can be expected after 15 years of observing, and 0.5-2 % after 30 years of observing, depending on what the orbital parameters of these three stars turn out to be. Combining the measurements of the three stars with favorable orbital parameters leads to even more precise values. In the example that we present, such combined solution yields 4 % accuracy already by the year 2002. All these estimates assume that annual position measurements will continue to be made with the 2 mas precision recently reported by Ghez et al. The precision of the distance measurement is relatively insensitive to the radial velocity errors, provided that the latter are less than 50 km/s. Besides potentially giving an estimate of R_0 that is better than any currently in use, the greatest advantage of this method is that it is free from systematic errors.Comment: Submitted to ApJ, 14 pages, 8 figure

    Stellar and Molecular Gas Kinematics of NGC1097: Inflow Driven by a Nuclear Spiral

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    We present spatially resolved distributions and kinematics of the stars and molecular gas in the central 320pc of NGC1097. The stellar continuum confirms the previously reported 3-arm spiral pattern extending into the central 100pc. The stellar kinematics and the gas distribution imply this is a shadowing effect due to extinction by gas and dust in the molecular spiral arms. The molecular gas kinematics show a strong residual (i.e. non-circular) velocity, which is manifested as a 2-arm kinematic spiral. Linear models indicate that this is the line-of-sight velocity pattern expected for a density wave in gas that generates a 3-arm spiral morphology. We estimate the inflow rate along the arms. Using hydrodynamical models of nuclear spirals, we show that when deriving the accretion rate into the central region, outflow in the disk plane between the arms has to be taken into account. For NGC1097, despite the inflow rate along the arms being ~1.2Msun/yr, the net gas accretion rate to the central few tens of parsecs is much smaller. The numerical models indicate that the inflow rate could be as little as ~0.06Msun/yr. This is sufficient to generate recurring starbursts, similar in scale to that observed, every 20-150Myr. The nuclear spiral represents a mechanism that can feed gas into the central parsecs of the galaxy, with the gas flow sustainable for timescales of a Gigayear.Comment: accepted by Ap

    The need for a second black hole at the Galactic center

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    Deep infra-red observations and long-term monitoring programs have provided dynamical evidence for a supermassive black hole of mass 3.e6 solar masses associated with the radio source Sagitarrius A* at the center of our Galaxy. The brightest stars orbiting within 0.1 parsecs of the black hole appear to be young, massive main sequence stars, n spite of an environment near the black hole that is hostile to star formation. We discuss mechanisms by which stars born outside the central parsec can sink towards the black hole and conclude that the drag coming from plausible stellar populations does not operate on the short timescales required by the stellar ages. We propose that these stars were dragged in by a second black hole of mass of 1.e3-1.e4 solar masses, which would be classified as an intermediate-mass black hole. We discuss the implications for the stellar populations and the kinematics in the Galactic center. Finally we note that continued astrometric monitoring of the central radio source offers the prospect for a direct detection of such objects.Comment: 5 pages, 2 postscript figures, submitted to ApJ letters The introduction section has been updated since submission to Ap

    Near-Infrared-Spectroscopy with Extremely Large Telescopes: Integral-Field- versus Multi-Object-Instruments

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    Integral-field-spectroscopy and multi-object-spectroscopy provide the high multiplex gain required for efficient use of the upcoming generation of extremely large telescopes. We present instrument developments and designs for both concepts, and how these designs can be applied to cryogenic near-infrared instrumentation. Specifically, the fiber-based concept stands out the possibility to expand it to any number of image points, and its modularity predestines it to become the new concept for multi-field-spectroscopy. Which of the three concepts --- integral-field-, multi-object-, or multi-field-spectroscopy --- is best suited for the largest telescopes is discussed considering the size of the objects and their density on the sky.Comment: 8 pages, 4 figures (converted to bitmap), to appear in the proceedings of the Workshop on Extremely Large Telescopes, Sweden, June 1-2, 1999, uses spie.sty (V0.91) and spiebib.bst (V0.91
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