skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Ciurlo, Anna"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    The neighborhood of the Galactic black hole boasts a plethora of extended interstellar gas and dust features, as well as populations of compact (unresolved or marginally resolved) features such as the G objects. Most are well manifested in the infrared. To disentangle and characterize the infrared structure of the extended features and identify compact sources, we used 3.8μm (L′ filter) data from the NIRC2 imager at the Keck Observatory and 8.6μm (PAH1 filter) data from the VISIR imager at the Very Large Telescope to produce the highest-resolution mid-IR color temperature map of the inner half-parsec of the Galactic center to date. From this map, we compile a catalog of features that stand out from their background. In particular, we identify 33 compact sources that stand out against the local background temperature, 11 of which are newly identified and candidates for being members of the G object population. Additionally, we resolve and newly characterize the morphology of several known extended features. These results prepare the way for ongoing and future JWST studies that have access to a greater range of mid-infrared wavelengths and thus will allow for refined estimation of the trends of dust temperatures.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    We present the first estimate of the intrinsic binary fraction of young stars across the central ≈0.4 pc surrounding the supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the Milky Way Galactic center (GC). This experiment searched for photometric variability in 102 spectroscopically confirmed young stars, using 119 nights of 10″ wide adaptive optics imaging observations taken at W. M. Keck Observatory over 16 yr in theK-[2.1μm] andH-[1.6μm] bands. We photometrically detected three binary stars, all of which are situated more than 1″ (0.04 pc) from the SMBH and one of which, S2-36, is newly reported here with spectroscopic confirmation. All are contact binaries or have photometric variability originating from stellar irradiation. To convert the observed binary fraction into an estimate of the underlying binary fraction, we determined the experimental sensitivity through detailed light-curve simulations, incorporating photometric effects of eclipses, irradiation, and tidal distortion in binaries. The simulations assumed a population of young binaries, with stellar ages (4 Myr) and masses matched to the most probable values measured for the GC young star population, and underlying binary system parameters (periods, mass ratios, and eccentricities) similar to those of local massive stars. As might be expected, our experimental sensitivity decreases for eclipses narrower in phase. The detections and simulations imply that the young, massive stars in the GC have a stellar binary fraction ≥71% (68% confidence), or ≥42% (95% confidence). This inferred GC young star binary fraction is consistent with that typically seen in young stellar populations in the solar neighborhood. Furthermore, our measured binary fraction is significantly higher than that recently reported by Chu et al. based on radial velocity measurements for stars ≲1″ of the SMBH. Constrained with these two studies, the probability that the same underlying young star binary fraction extends across the entire region is <1.4%. This tension provides support for a radial dependence of the binary star fraction, and therefore, for the dynamical predictions of binary merger and evaporation events close to the SMBH.

    more » « less
  3. Context.The Galactic Center black hole and the nuclear star cluster are surrounded by a clumpy ring of gas and dust, the circumnuclear disk (CND), that rotates about them at a standoff distance of ≃1.5 pc. The mass and density of individual clumps in the CND are disputed.

    Aims.We seek to use H2to characterize the clump size distribution and to investigate the morphology and dynamics of the interface between the ionized interior layer of the CND and the molecular reservoir lying farther out (corresponding to the inner rim of the CND, illuminated in ultraviolet light by the central star cluster).

    Methods.We have observed two fields of approximately 20″ × 20″ in the CND at near-infrared wavelengths with the OSIRIS spectro-imager at the Keck Observatory. These two fields, located at the approaching and receding nodes of the CND, best display this interface. Our data cover two H2lines as well as the Brγline (tracing H II). We have developed the tool CubeFit, an original method for extracting maps of continuous physical parameters (such as the velocity field and velocity dispersion) from integral-field spectroscopy data, using regularization to largely preserve spatial resolution in regions of low signal-to-noise ratio.

    Results.This original method enables us to isolate compact, bright features in the interstellar medium of the CND. Several clumps in the southwestern field assume the appearance of filaments, many of which are parallel to one another. We conclude that these clumps cannot be self-gravitating.

    more » « less
  4. Schmidt, Dirk ; Schreiber, Laura ; Vernet, Elise (Ed.)
  5. Schmidt, Dirk ; Schreiber, Laura ; Vernet, Elise (Ed.)
    We present evaluations of the Keck Telescope’s adaptive optics (AO) performance on Milky Way Galactic center imaging and spectroscopic observations using three different AO setups: laser guide star with infrared (IR) tip-tilt correction, laser guide star with visible tip-tilt correction, and infrared natural guide star with a pyramid wavefront sensor. Observations of the Galactic Center can utilize a bright IR tip-tilt star (K′ = 7.4 mag) for corrections, which is over 10 arcseconds closer than the optical tip-tilt star. The proximity of this IR star enables the comparison of the aforementioned AO configurations. We present performance metrics such as full-width-at-half-maximum (FWHM), Strehl ratio, and spectral signal to noise ratio and their relations to atmospheric seeing conditions. The IR tip-tilt star decreases the median spatial FWHM by 31% in imaging data and 30% in spectroscopy. Median Strehl for imaging data improves by 24%. Additionally, the IR star removes the seeing dependence from differential tip-tilt error in both imaging and spectroscopic data. This evaluation provides important work for ongoing upgrades to AO systems, such as the Keck All sky Precision Adaptive Optics (KAPA) upgrade on the Keck I Telescope, and the development of new AO systems for extremely large telescopes. 
    more » « less
  6. Abstract

    We present two decades of new high-angular-resolution near-infrared data from the W. M. Keck Observatory that reveal extreme evolution in X7, an elongated dust and gas feature, presently located half an arcsecond from the Galactic Center supermassive black hole. With both spectro-imaging observations of Br-γline emission andLp(3.8μm) imaging data, we provide the first estimate of its orbital parameters and quantitative characterization of the evolution of its morphology and mass. We find that the leading edge of X7 appears to be on a mildly eccentric (e∼ 0.3), relatively short-period (170 yr) orbit and is headed toward periapse passage, estimated to occur in ∼2036. Furthermore, our kinematic measurements rule out the earlier suggestion that X7 is associated with the stellar source S0-73 or with any other point source that has overlapped with X7 during our monitoring period. Over the course of our observations, X7 has (1) become more elongated, with a current length-to-width ratio of 9, (2) maintained a very consistent long-axis orientation (position angle of 50°), (3) inverted its radial velocity differential from tip to tail from −50 to +80 km s−1, and (4) sustained its total brightness (12.8Lpmagnitudes at the leading edge) and color temperature (425 K), which suggest a constant mass of ∼50MEarth. We present a simple model showing that these results are compatible with the expected effect of tidal forces exerted on it by the central black hole, and we propose that X7 is the gas and dust recently ejected from a grazing collision in a binary system.

    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    We present the results of the first systematic search for spectroscopic binaries within the central 2 × 3 arcsec2around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This survey is based primarily on over a decade of adaptive optics-fed integral-field spectroscopy (R∼ 4000), obtained as part of the Galactic Center Orbits Initiative at Keck Observatory, and it has a limitingK’-band magnitude of 15.8, which is at least 4 mag deeper than previous spectroscopic searches for binaries at larger radii within the central nuclear star cluster. From this primary data set, over 600 new radial velocities are extracted and reported, increasing by a factor of 3 the number of such measurements. We find no significant periodic signals in our sample of 28 stars, of which 16 are massive, young (main-sequence B) stars and 12 are low-mass, old (M and K giant) stars. Using Monte Carlo simulations, we derive upper limits on the intrinsic binary star fraction for the young star population at 47% (at 95% confidence) located ∼20 mpc from the black hole. The young star binary fraction is significantly lower than that observed in the field (70%). This result is consistent with a scenario in which the central supermassive black hole drives nearby stellar binaries to merge or be disrupted, and it may have important implications for the production of gravitational waves and hypervelocity stars.

    more » « less
  8. null (Ed.)