5,422 research outputs found

    Manifestations of the Galactic Center Magnetic Field

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    Several independent lines of evidence reveal that a relatively strong and highly ordered magnetic field is present throughout the Galaxy's central molecular zone (CMZ). The field within dense clouds of the central molecular zone is predominantly parallel to the Galactic plane, probably as a result of the strong tidal shear in that region. A second magnetic field system is present outside of clouds, manifested primarily by a population of vertical, synchrotron-emitting filamentary features aligned with the field. Whether or not the strong vertical field is uniform throughout the CMZ remains undetermined, but is a key central issue for the overall energetics and the impact of the field on the Galactic center arena. The interactions between the two field systems are considered, as they are likely to drive some of the activity within the CMZ. As a proxy for other gas-rich galaxies in the local group and beyond, the Galactic center region reveals that magnetic fields are likely to be an important diagnostic, if not also a collimator, of the flow of winds and energetic particles out of the nucleus.Comment: To appear in "LESSONS FROM THE LOCAL GROUP" - A Conference in Honour of David Block and Bruce Elmegreen, eds: Freeman, K.C., Elmegreen, B.G., Block, D.L. & Woolway, M. (SPRINGER: NEW YORK

    Evidence for A Parsec-scale Jet from The Galactic Center Black Hole: Interaction with Local Gas

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    Despite strong physical reasons that they should exist and decades of search, jets from the Galactic Center Black Hole, Sgr A*, have not yet been convincingly detected. Based on high-resolution Very Large Array images and ultra-deep imaging-spectroscopic data produced by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, we report new evidence for the existence of a parsec-scale jet from Sgr A*, by associating a linear feature G359.944-0.052, previously identified in X-ray images of the Galactic Center, with a radio shock front on the Eastern Arm of the Sgr A West HII region. We show that the shock front can be explained in terms of the impact of a jet having a sharp momentum peak along the Galaxy's rotation axis, whereas G359.944-0.052, a quasi-steady feature with a power-law spectrum, can be understood as synchrotron radiation from shock-induced ultrarelativistic electrons cooling in a finite post-shock region downstream along the jet path. Several interesting implications of the jet properties are discussed.Comment: 33 pages, 7 figures; Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journa

    A Nonthermal Radio Filament Connected to the Galactic Black Hole?

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    Using the Very Large Array, we have investigated a non-thermal radio filament (NTF) recently found very near the Galactic black hole and its radio counterpart, SgrA*. While this NTF -- the Sgr A West Filament (SgrAWF) -- shares many characteristics with the population of NTFs occupying the central few hundred parsecs of the Galaxy, the SgrAWF has the distinction of having an orientation and sky location that suggest an intimate physical connection to SgrA*. We present 3.3 and 5.5 cm images constructed using an innovative methodology that yields a very high dynamic range, providing an unprecedentedly clear picture of the SgrAWF. While the physical association of the SgrAWF with SgrA* is not unambiguous, the images decidedly evoke this interesting possibility. Assuming that the SgrAWF bears a physical relationship to SgrA*, we examine the potential implications. One is that SgrA* is a source of relativistic particles constrained to diffuse along ordered local field lines. The relativistic particles could also be fed into the local field by a collimated outflow from SgrA*, perhaps driven by the Poynting flux accompanying the black hole spin in the presence of a magnetic field threading the event horizon. Second, we consider the possibility that the SgrAWF is the manifestation of a low-mass-density cosmic string that has become anchored to the black hole. The simplest form of these hypotheses would predict that the filament be bi-directional, whereas the SgrAWF is only seen on one side of SgrA*, perhaps because of the dynamics of the local medium.Comment: 9 pages, 4 figures, accepted for ApJ Letter

    Uniform Silicon Isotope Ratios Across the Milky Way Galaxy

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    We report the relative abundances of the three stable isotopes of silicon, 28^{28}Si, 29^{29}Si and 30^{30}Si, across the Galaxy using the v=0,J=10v = 0, J = 1 \to 0 transition of silicon monoxide. The chosen sources represent a range in Galactocentric radii (RGCR_{\rm GC}) from 0 to 9.8 kpc. The high spectral resolution and sensitivity afforded by the GBT permit isotope ratios to be corrected for optical depths. The optical-depth-corrected data indicate that the secondary-to-primary silicon isotope ratios 29Si/28Si^{29}{\rm Si}/^{28}{\rm Si} and 30Si/28Si^{30}{\rm Si}/^{28}{\rm Si} vary much less than predicted on the basis of other stable isotope ratio gradients across the Galaxy. Indeed, there is no detectable variation in Si isotope ratios with RGCR_{\rm GC}. This lack of an isotope ratio gradient stands in stark contrast to the monotonically decreasing trend with RGCR_{\rm GC} exhibited by published secondary-to-primary oxygen isotope ratios. These results, when considered in the context of the expectations for chemical evolution, suggest that the reported oxygen isotope ratio trends, and perhaps that for carbon as well, require further investigation. The methods developed in this study for SiO isotopologue ratio measurements are equally applicable to Galactic oxygen, carbon and nitrogen isotope ratio measurements, and should prove useful for future observations of these isotope systems.Comment: 18 pages, 12 figures, 2 tables. Published in The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 839, Issue

    A New Perspective of the Radio Bright Zone at The Galactic Center: Feedback from Nuclear Activities

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    New observations of Sgr A have been carried out with the VLA using the broadband (2 GHz) continuum mode at 5.5 GHz, covering the central 30 pc region of the RBZ at the Galactic center. Using the MS-MFS algorithms in CASA, we have imaged Sgr A with a resolution of 1", achieving an rms 8 μ\muJy/beam, and a dynamic range 100,000:1.The radio image is compared with X-ray, CN emission-line and Paschen-α\alpha images obtained using Chandra, SMA and HST/NICMOS, respectively. We discuss several prominent radio features. The "Sgr A West Wings" extend 5 pc from the NW and SE tips of the ionized "Mini-spiral" in Sgr A West to positions located 2.9 and 2.4 arc min to the NW and SE of Sgr A*, respectively. The NW wing, along with several other prominent features, including the "NW Streamers", form an elongated radio lobe (NW lobe), oriented nearly perpendicular to the Galactic plane. This radio lobe, with a size of 14.4 pc x 7.3 pc, has a known X-ray counterpart. A row of three thermally emitting rings is observed in the NW lobe. A field containing numerous amorphous radio blobs extends for a distance of ~2 arc min beyond the tip of the SE wing; these features coincide with the SE X-ray lobe. Most of the amorphous radio blobs in the NW and SE lobes have Paschen-α\alpha counterparts, suggesting that a shock interaction of ambient gas concentrations with a collimated nuclear wind (outflow) that may be driven by radiation force from the central star cluster within the CND. Finally, we remark on a prominent radio feature located within the shell of the Sgr A East SNR. Because this feature -- the "Sigma Front" -- correlates well in shape and orientation with the nearby edge of the CND, we propose that it is a reflected shock wave resulting from the impact of the Sgr A East blast wave on the CND.Comment: 18 pages, 9 figures, ApJ accepte

    Star Formation in the Extreme Galactic Center Environment

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    Copious star formation occurs in the dense Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) of our Galaxy, but at a much smaller rate than occurs in a comparable mass of molecular gas in the Galactic disk. The combination of large turbulent velocity dispersions, a relatively strong magnetic field, and a strong tidal field all contribute to inhibiting star formation (SF) in different ways in different CMZ locations. Nonetheless, there are spectacular displays of recent and ongoing SF in the CMZ, including massive young stellar clusters, sites of abundant SF in progress, and numerous spots of protostellar or YSO activity. The presence of giant molecular clouds in the CMZ that are almost entirely devoid of SF indicates that SF requires a trigger that is not present everywhere. The dominant provocation of SF is likely to be cloud compression, either by large-scale shocks or by orbital motion of clouds into a region of enhanced tidal compression and/or enhanced external pressure. Recent hypotheses for where and how SF takes place in the CMZ are constrained by the recent orbital determinations of the massive Arches and Quintuplet clusters. Star formation in the central parsec is subject to a very different set of physical conditions, and is less well understood, but is important for the co-evolution of the central black hole and the nuclear star cluster.Comment: 5 pages, Proceedings of the 7th Chile-Cologne-Bonn-Symposium: Physics and Chemistry of Star Formatio