Simulations of star formation in a gaseous disc around Sgr A*– a failed active galactic nucleus

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (Impact Factor: 5.52). 07/2007; 379(1):21 - 33. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.11938.x
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT We numerically model fragmentation of a gravitationally unstable gaseous disc under conditions that may be appropriate for the formation of the young massive stars observed in the central parsec of our Galaxy. In this study, we adopt a simple prescription with a locally constant cooling time. We find that, for cooling times just short enough to induce disc fragmentation, stars form with a top-heavy initial mass function (IMF), as observed in the Galactic Centre (GC). For shorter cooling times, the disc fragments much more vigorously, leading to lower average stellar masses. Thermal feedback associated with gas accretion on to protostars slows down disc fragmentation, as predicted by some analytical models. We also simulate the fragmentation of a gas stream on an eccentric orbit in a combined Sgr A* plus stellar cusp gravitational potential. The stream precesses, self-collides and forms stars with a top-heavy IMF. None of our models produces large enough comoving groups of stars that could account for the observed ‘ministar cluster’ IRS13E in the GC. In all of the gravitationally unstable disc models that we explored, star formation takes place too fast to allow any gas accretion on to the central supermassive black hole. While this can help to explain the quiescence of ‘failed active galactic nucleus’ such as Sgr A*, it poses a challenge for understanding the high gas accretion rates inferred for many quasars.

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    ABSTRACT: The origin, structure and evolution of the small gas cloud, G2, is investigated, that is on an orbit almost straight into the Galactic central supermassive black hole (SMBH). G2 is a sensitive probe of the hot accretion zone of Sgr A*, requiring gas temperatures and densities that agree well with models of captured shock-heated stellar winds. Its mass is equal to the critical mass below which cold clumps would be destroyed quickly by evaporation. Its mass is also constrained by the fact that at apocenter its sound crossing timescale was equal to its orbital timescale. Our numerical simulations show that the observed structure and evolution of G2 can be well reproduced if it formed in pressure equilibrium with the surrounding in 1995 at a distance from the SMBH of 7.6e16 cm. If the cloud would have formed at apocenter in the 'clockwise' stellar disk as expected from its orbit, it would be torn into a very elongated spaghetti-like filament by 2011 which is not observed. This problem can be solved if G2 is the head of a larger, shell-like structure that formed at apocenter. Our numerical simulations show that this scenario explains not only G2's observed kinematical and geometrical properties but also the Br_gamma observations of a low surface brightness gas tail that trails the cloud. In 2013, while passing the SMBH G2 will break up into a string of droplets that within the next 30 years mix with the surrounding hot gas and trigger cycles of AGN activity.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2012; 750(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: I review recent progresses in the dynamics and the evolution of self-gravitating accretion discs. Accretion discs are a fundamental component of several astrophysical systems on very diverse scales, and can be found around supermassive black holes in Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), and also in our Galaxy around stellar mass compact objects and around young stars. Notwithstanding the specific differences arising from such diversity in physical extent, all these systems share a common feature where a central object is fed from the accretion disc, due to the effect of turbulence and disc instabilities, which are able to remove the angular momentum from the gas and allow its accretion. In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that the gravitational field produced by the disc itself (the disc's self-gravity) is an important ingredient in the models, especially in the context of protostellar discs and of AGN discs. Indeed, it appears that in many cases (and especially in the colder outer parts of the disc) the development of gravitational instabilities can be one of the main agents in the redistribution of angular momentum. In some cases, the instability can be strong enough to lead to the formation of gravitationally bound clumps within the disc, and thus to determine the disc fragmentation. As a result, progress in our understanding of the dynamics of self-gravitating discs is essential to understand the processes that lead to the feeding of both young stars and of supermassive black holes in AGN. At the same time, understanding the fragmentation conditions is important to determine under which conditions AGN discs would fragment and form stars and whether protostellar discs might form giant gaseous planets through disc fragmentation. Comment: in press, La Rivista del Nuovo Cimento, 30, 293 (2007)
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    ABSTRACT: We present preliminary results of our \hst Pa$\alpha$ survey of the Galactic Center (\gc), which maps the central 0.65$\times$0.25 degrees around Sgr A*. This survey provides us with a more complete inventory of massive stars within the \gc, compared to previous observations. We find 157 Pa$\alpha$ emitting sources, which are evolved massive stars. Half of them are located outside of three young massive star clusters near Sgr A*. The loosely spatial distribution of these field sources suggests that they are within less massive star clusters/groups, compared to the three massive ones. Our Pa$\alpha$ mosaic not only resolves previously well-known large-scale filaments into fine structures, but also reveals many new extended objects, such as bow shocks and H II regions. In particular, we find two regions with large-scale Pa$\alpha$ diffuse emission and tens of Pa$\alpha$ emitting sources in the negative Galactic longitude suggesting recent star formation activities, which were not known previously. Furthermore, in our survey, we detect $\sim$0.6 million stars, most of which are red giants or AGB stars. Comparisons of the magnitude distribution in 1.90 $\mu$m and those from the stellar evolutionary tracks with different star formation histories suggest an episode of star formation process about 350 Myr ago in the \gc . Comment: 10 pages, 6 figures, Proceedings of the Galactic Center Workshop 2009, Shanghai

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