A. M. Ghez

Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (265)749.61 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We report new observations of Galactic Center source G2 from the W. M. Keck Observatory. G2 is a dusty red object associated with gas that shows tidal interactions as it nears closest approach (periapse) with the Galaxy's central black hole. Our observations, conducted as G2 passed through periapse, were designed to test the proposal that G2 is a 3 earth mass gas cloud. Such a cloud should be tidally disrupted during periapse passage. The data were obtained using the Keck II laser guide star adaptive optics system (LGSAO) and the facility near-infrared camera (NIRC2) through the K' [2.1 $\mu$m] and L' [3.8 $\mu$m] broadband filters. Several key results emerge from these observations: 1) G2 has survived its closest approach to the central black hole as a compact, unresolved source at L'; 2) G2's L' brightness measurements are consistent with those over the last decade; 3) G2's motion continues to be consistent with a Keplerian model. These results rule out G2 as a pure gas cloud and imply that G2 has a central star. This star has a luminosity of 30 $L_{\odot} $ and is surrounded by a large (2 AU) optically thick dust shell. We suggest that G2 is a binary star merger product and will ultimately appear similar to the B-stars that are tightly clustered around the black hole (the so-called S-star cluster). In memoriam of Gerry Neugebauer (1932-2014).
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 10/2014; 796(1). · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first detection from the Spitzer Space Telescope of 4.5 micron variability from Sgr A*, the emitting source associated with the Milky Way's central black hole. The >23 hour continuous light curve was obtained with the IRAC instrument in 2013 December. The result characterizes the variability of Sgr A* prior to the closest approach of the G2 object, a putative infalling gas cloud that orbits close to Sgr A*. The high stellar density at the location of Sgr A* produces a background of ~250 mJy at 4.5 microns in each pixel with a large pixel-to-pixel gradient, but the light curve for the highly variable Sgr A* source was successfully measured by modeling and removing the variations due to pointing wobble. The observed flux densities range from the noise level of ~0.7 mJy rms in a 6.4-s measurement to ~10 mJy. Emission was seen above the noise level ~34% of the time. The light curve characteristics, including the flux density distribution and structure function, are consistent with those previously derived at shorter infrared wavelengths. We see no evidence in the light curve for activity attributable to the G2 interaction at the observing epoch, ~100 days before the expected G2 periapsis passage. The IRAC light curve is more than a factor of two longer than any previous infrared observation, improving constraints on the timescale of the break in the power spectral distribution of Sgr A* flux densities. The data favor the longer of the two previously published values for the timescale.
    The Astrophysical Journal 08/2014; 793(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: IRIS (InfraRed Imaging Spectrograph) is a first light near-infrared diffraction limited imager and integral field spectrograph being designed for the future Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). IRIS is optimized to perform astronomical studies across a significant fraction of cosmic time, from our Solar System to distant newly formed galaxies (Barton et al. [1]). We present a selection of the innovative science cases that are unique to IRIS in the era of upcoming space and ground-based telescopes. We focus on integral field spectroscopy of directly imaged exoplanet atmospheres, probing fundamental physics in the Galactic Center, measuring 10^4 to 10^10 Msun supermassive black hole masses, resolved spectroscopy of young star-forming galaxies (1 < z < 5) and first light galaxies (6 < z < 12), and resolved spectroscopy of strong gravitational lensed sources to measure dark matter substructure. For each of these science cases we use the IRIS simulator (Wright et al. [2], Do et al. [3]) to explore IRIS capabilities. To highlight the unique IRIS capabilities, we also update the point and resolved source sensitivities for the integral field spectrograph (IFS) in all five broadband filters (Z, Y, J, H, K) for the finest spatial scale of 0.004" per spaxel. We briefly discuss future development plans for the data reduction pipeline and quicklook software for the IRIS instrument suite.
    07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the orbital motion of the Quintuplet cluster near the Galactic center with the aim of constraining formation scenarios of young, massive star clusters in nuclear environments. Three epochs of adaptive optics high-angular resolution imaging with the Keck/NIRC2 and Very Large Telescope/NAOS-CONICA systems were obtained over a time baseline of 5.8 yr, delivering an astrometric accuracy of 0.5-1 mas yr–1. Proper motions were derived in the cluster reference frame and were used to distinguish cluster members from the majority of the dense field star population toward the inner bulge. Fitting the cluster and field proper motion distributions with two-dimensional (2D) Gaussian models, we derive the orbital motion of the cluster for the first time. The Quintuplet is moving with a 2D velocity of 132 ± 15 km s–1 with respect to the field along the Galactic plane, which yields a three-dimensional orbital velocity of 167 ± 15 km s–1 when combined with the previously known radial velocity. From a sample of 119 stars measured in three epochs, we derive an upper limit to the velocity dispersion of σ1D < 10 km s–1 in the core of the Quintuplet cluster. Knowledge of the three velocity components of the Quintuplet allows us to model the cluster orbit in the potential of the inner Galaxy. Under the assumption that the Quintuplet is located in the central 200 pc at the present time, these simulations exclude the possibility that the cluster is moving on a circular orbit. Comparing the Quintuplet's orbit with our earlier measurements of the Arches' orbit, we discuss the possibility that both clusters originated in the same area of the central molecular zone (CMZ). According to the model of Binney et al., two families of stable cloud orbits are located along the major and minor axes of the Galactic bar, named x1 and x2 orbits, respectively. The formation locus of these clusters is consistent with the outermost x2 orbit and might hint at cloud collisions at the transition region between the x1 and x2 orbital families located at the tip of the minor axis of the Galactic bar. The formation of young, massive star clusters in circumnuclear rings is discussed in the framework of the channeling in of dense gas by the bar potential. We conclude that the existence of a large-scale bar plays a major role in supporting ongoing star and cluster formation, not only in nearby spiral galaxies with circumnuclear rings, but also in the Milky Way's CMZ.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2014; 789(2):115. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present new high-resolution observations and panchromatic modeling of SSTTau J042021+281349, a 400AU-radius edge-on protoplanetary disk located in the Taurus star-forming region. This object is part of a larger Hubble Space Telescope Cycle 19 program to image new Spitzer-selected candidate edge-on disks. The unique orientation of edge-on protoplanetary disks enables detailed analyses of their vertical structure as well as of their dust properties. We have gathered high-resolution visible and near-infrared scattered light images of the system with the Hubble Space Telescope and adaptive optics system on the Keck II telescope, as well as high-resolution millimeter thermal emission maps with CARMA. Compared to the well-known HH 30 edge-on protoplanetary disk, the SSTTau J042021+281349 system is particularly remarkable because of its spectacular bipolar jet and the extremely high degree of lateral symmetry of the disk. Indeed, this system is a "cleaner" prototype for this category of disks. We also discuss the origin of diffuse scattered light well above the disk midplane, which could be related to a large-scale disk wind entraining small dust grains. Arguably the most remarkable feature of this disk is the apparent achromaticity of dust opacity from the visible to the near-infrared, which suggests that it is in an advanced stage of dust evolution. Our modeling aims at reproducing simultaneously all of these datasets, as well as the Spitzer- and Herschel-populated spectral energy distribution of the system, constraining the disk geometry and constituent dust properties in a self-consistent approach. We build on similar analyses conducted on other edge-on disks to place this object in the overall scheme of protoplanetary disk evolution.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 06/2014; 8(S299).
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    ABSTRACT: We report the detection of the two-dimensional structure of the radio source associated with the Galactic Center black hole, Sagittarius A*, obtained from Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observations at a wavelength of 7mm. The intrinsic source is modeled as an elliptical Gaussian with major axis size 35.4 x 12.6 R_S in position angle 95 deg East of North. This morphology can be interpreted in the context of both jet and accretion disk models for the radio emission. There is supporting evidence in large angular-scale multi-wavelength observations for both source models for a preferred axis near 95 deg. We also place a maximum peak-to-peak change of 15% in the intrinsic major axis size over five different epochs. Three observations were triggered by detection of near infrared (NIR) flares and one was simultaneous with a large X-ray flare detected by NuSTAR. The absence of simultaneous and quasi-simultaneous flares indicates that not all high energy events produce variability at radio wavelengths. This supports the conclusion that NIR and X-ray flares are primarily due to electron excitation and not to an enhanced accretion rate onto the black hole.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2014; 790(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the detection of the two-dimensional structure of the radio source associated with the Galactic Center black hole, Sagittarius A*, obtained from Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observations at a wavelength of 7mm. The intrinsic source is modeled as an elliptical Gaussian with major axis size 35.4 x 12.6 R_S in position angle 95 deg East of North. This morphology can be interpreted in the context of both jet and accretion disk models for the radio emission. There is supporting evidence in large angular-scale multi-wavelength observations for both source models for a preferred axis near 95 deg. We also place a maximum peak-to-peak change of 15% in the intrinsic major axis size over five different epochs. Three observations were triggered by detection of near infrared (NIR) flares and one was simultaneous with a large X-ray flare detected by NuSTAR. The absence of simultaneous and quasi-simultaneous flares indicates that not all high energy events produce variability at radio wavelengths. This supports the conclusion that NIR and X-ray flares are primarily due to electron excitation and not to an enhanced accretion rate onto the black hole.
    04/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of a search for companions to young brown dwarfs in the Taurus and Chamaeleon I star forming regions (1/2-3 Myr). We have used WFPC2 on board HST to obtain F791W and F850LP images of 47 members of these regions that have spectral types of M6-L0 (0.01-0.1 Msun). An additional late-type member of Taurus, FU Tau (M7.25+M9.25), was also observed with adaptive optics at Keck Observatory. We have applied PSF subtraction to the primaries and have searched the resulting images for objects that have colors and magnitudes that are indicative of young low-mass objects. Through this process, we have identified promising candidate companions to 2MASS J04414489+2301513 (rho=0.105"/15 AU), 2MASS J04221332+1934392 (rho=0.05"/7 AU), and ISO 217 (rho=0.03"/5 AU). We reported the discovery of the first candidate in a previous study, showing that it has a similar proper motion as the primary through a comparison of astrometry measured with WFPC2 and Gemini adaptive optics. We have collected an additional epoch of data with Gemini that further supports that result. By combining our survey with previous high-resolution imaging in Taurus, Chamaeleon, and Upper Sco (10 Myr), we measure binary fractions of 14/93 = 0.15+0.05/-0.03 for M4-M6 (0.1-0.3 Msun) and 4/108 = 0.04+0.03/-0.01 for >M6 (<0.1 Msun) at separations of >10 AU. Given the youth and low density of these three regions, the lower binary fraction at later types is probably primordial rather than due to dynamical interactions among association members. The widest low-mass binaries (>100 AU) also appear to be more common in Taurus and Chamaeleon than in the field, which suggests that the widest low-mass binaries are disrupted by dynamical interactions at >10 Myr, or that field brown dwarfs have been born predominantly in denser clusters where wide systems are disrupted or inhibited from forming.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2014; 788(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Continuously time variable sources are often characterized by their power spectral density and flux distribution. These quantities can undergo dramatic changes over time if the underlying physical processes change. However, some changes can be subtle and not distinguishable using standard statistical approaches. Here, we report a methodology that aims to identify distinct but similar states of time variability. We apply this method to the Galactic supermassive black hole, where 2.2 um flux is observed from a source associated with SgrA*, and where two distinct states have recently been suggested. Our approach is taken from mathematical finance and works with conditional flux density distributions that depend on the previous flux value. The discrete, unobserved (hidden) state variable is modeled as a stochastic process and the transition probabilities are inferred from the flux density time series. Using the most comprehensive data set to date, in which all Keck and a majority of the publicly available VLT data have been merged, we show that SgrA* is sufficiently described by a single intrinsic state. However the observed flux densities exhibit two states: a noise-dominated and a source-dominated one. Our methodology reported here will prove extremely useful to assess the effects of the putative gas cloud G2 that is on its way toward the black hole and might create a new state of variability.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2014; 791(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present new kinematic measurements and modeling of a sample of 116 young stars in the central parsec of the Galaxy in order to investigate the properties of the young stellar disk. The measurements were derived from a combination of speckle and laser guide star adaptive optics imaging and integral field spectroscopy from the Keck telescopes. Compared to earlier disk studies, the most important kinematic measurement improvement is in the precision of the accelerations in the plane of the sky, which have a factor of six smaller uncertainties (~10 uas/yr/yr). We have also added the first radial velocity measurements for 8 young stars, increasing the sample at the largest radii (6"-12") by 25%. We derive the ensemble properties of the observed stars using Monte-Carlo simulations of mock data. There is one highly significant kinematic feature (~20 sigma), corresponding to the well-known clockwise disk, and no significant feature is detected at the location of the previously claimed counterclockwise disk. The true disk fraction is estimated to be ~20%, a factor of ~2.5 lower than previous claims, suggesting that we may be observing the remnant of what used to be a more densely populated stellar disk. The similarity in the kinematic properties of the B stars and the O/WR stars suggests a common star formation event. The intrinsic eccentricity distribution of the disk stars is unimodal, with an average value of = 0.27 +/- 0.07, which we show can be achieved through dynamical relaxation in an initially circular disk with a moderately top-heavy mass function.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2014; 783(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present observations and analysis of G2 - the gaseous red emission-line object that is fast approaching the central black hole on a very eccentric orbit. The laser guide star Adaptive Optics systems on the W. M. Keck I and II telescopes were used to obtained spectroscopy and imaging at the highest spatial resolution. We present the orbital solution derived from radial velocities in addition to Br-γ line astrometry, which we show is more accurate than L' astrometry. We argue that although there is clearly gas associated with it, it seems more likely that the source is ultimately stellar in nature. Since in this case the potential impact on SgrA*'s accretion flow could be very subtle, we present a statistical analysis that can identify non-obvious variability state changes. This statistical framework has been taken from mathematical finance as is applied to light curves from the Galactic center black hole for the first time.
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We give an update of the observations and analysis of G2 - the gaseous red emission-line object that is on a very eccentric orbit around the Galaxy's central black hole and predicted to come within 2400 Rs in early 2014. During 2013, the laser guide star adaptive optics systems on the W. M. Keck I and II telescopes were used to obtain three epochs of spectroscopy and imaging at the highest spatial resolution currently possible in the near-IR. The updated orbital solution derived from radial velocities in addition to Br-Gamma line astrometry is consistent with our earlier estimates. Strikingly, even ~6 months before pericenter passage there is no perceptible deviation from a Keplerian orbit. We furthermore show that a proposed "tail" of G2 is likely not associated with it but is rather an independent gas structure. We also show that G2 does not seem to be unique, since several red emission-line objects can be found in the central arcsecond. Taken together, it seems more likely that G2 is ultimately stellar in nature, although there is clearly gas associated with it.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 12/2013; 9(S303).
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    ABSTRACT: We present 3D kinematic observations of stars within the central 0.5 pc of the Milky Way nuclear star cluster using adaptive optics imaging and spectroscopy from the Keck telescopes. Recent observations have shown that the cluster has a shallower surface density profile than expected for a dynamically relaxed cusp, leading to important implications for its formation and evolution. However, the true three dimensional profile of the cluster is unknown due to the difficulty in de-projecting the stellar number counts. Here, we use spherical Jeans modeling of individual proper motions and radial velocities to constrain for the first time, the de-projected spatial density profile, cluster velocity anisotropy, black hole mass ($M_\mathrm{BH}$), and distance to the Galactic center ($R_0$) simultaneously. We find that the inner stellar density profile of the late-type stars, $\rho(r)\propto r^{-\gamma}$ to have a power law slope $\gamma=0.05_{-0.60}^{+0.29}$, much more shallow than the frequently assumed Bahcall $\&$ Wolf slope of $\gamma=7/4$. The measured slope will significantly affect dynamical predictions involving the cluster, such as the dynamical friction time scale. The cluster core must be larger than 0.5 pc, which disfavors some scenarios for its origin. Our measurement of $M_\mathrm{BH}=5.76_{-1.26}^{+1.76}\times10^6$ $M_\odot$ and $R_0=8.92_{-0.55}^{+0.58}$ kpc is consistent with that derived from stellar orbits within 1$^{\prime\prime}$ of Sgr A*. When combined with the orbit of S0-2, the uncertainty on $R_0$ is reduced by 30% ($8.46_{-0.38}^{+0.42}$ kpc). We suggest that the MW NSC can be used in the future in combination with stellar orbits to significantly improve constraints on $R_0$.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2013; 779(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report on the expected astrometric performance of the Thirty Meter Telescope's InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer (IRIS) as determined using simulated images of the Galactic center. This region of the Galaxy harbors a supermassive black hole and a dense nuclear stellar cluster, thus providing an ideal laboratory for testing crowded-field astrometry with the IRIS imager. Understanding the sources of astrometric error is also important for making precision measurements of the short-period stars orbiting the supermassive black hole in order to probe the curvature of space-time as predicted by General Relativity. Various sources of error are investigated, including read-out and photon noise, spatially variable point spread functions, confusion, static distortion for the IRIS imager, and the quadratic probe arm distortion. Optical distortion is the limiting source of error for bright stars (K < 15), while fainter sources will be limited by the effects of source confusion. A detailed astrometric error budget for the Galactic center science case is provided.
    10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The Galactic center supermassive black hole is a fluctuating source of electromagnetic radiation derived from its accretion flow. For the past decade, the black hole's ingestion has been modest, but in the near future, its accretion rate and luminosity are expected to surge as the cloud G2 swings by and feeds Sgr A* with a helping of fresh gas. We propose to monitor Sgr A* with Spitzer/IRAC at a wavelength of 4.5 microns as the elevated accretion episode proceeds. Near-infrared wavelengths are where the black hole's emission has been best characterized in the past, and IRAC observations will complement planned observations with other observatories at X-ray, radio, and submillimeter wavelengths. The variability of Sgr A* is a random red-noise process, but the limited duration of continuous ground-based observations (<6 hr) has prevented direct measurement of the correlation timescale. This timescale corresponds to a thermal or viscous timescale associated with the inner radius of the accretion disk, and knowing it is critical for the black hole accretion physics. IRAC offers the unique capability to observe in the infrared for 24 hours continuously at each epoch and to observe during the critical winter months when no ground-based observatories will be able to carry out infrared or submm observations. Our plan is to observe at seven epochs spread over a 14-month interval, including initial observations before the G2 periapsis. This will let us follow the initial stages of what is expected to be an extended accretion episode. Although Sgr A* lies in a crowded field, the sensitivity and the known, stable point spread function of IRAC will allow us recover all variability information on time scales longer than about 20 minutes (and perhaps shorter). The IRAC observations will at last reveal the correlation time of the variation and whether it changes during the accretion episode, yielding new information about black hole accretion disk physics.
    Spitzer Proposal. 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Our general understanding of multiple star and planet formation is primarily based on observations of young multiple systems in low density regions like Tau-Aur and Oph. Since many, if not most, of the stars are born in clusters, observational constraints from young binaries in those environments are fundamental for understanding both the formation of multiple systems and planets in multiple systems throughout the Galaxy. We build upon the largest survey for young binaries in the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC) which is based on Hubble Space Telescope observations to derive both stellar and circumstellar properties of newborn binary systems in this cluster environment. We present Adaptive Optics spatially-resolved JHKL'-band photometry and K-band R$\sim$\,5000 spectra for a sample of 8 ONC binary systems from this database. We characterize the stellar properties of binary components and obtain a census of protoplanetary disks through K-L' color excess. For a combined sample of ONC binaries including 7 additional systems with NIR spectroscopy from the literature, we derive mass ratio and relative age distributions. We compare the stellar and circumstellar properties of binaries in ONC with those in Tau-Aur and Oph from samples of binaries with stellar properties derived for each component from spectra and/or visual photometry and with a disk census obtained through K-L color excess. The mass ratio distribution of ONC binaries is found to be indistinguishable from that of Tau-Aur and, to some extent, to that of Oph in the separation range 85-560\,AU and for primary mass in the range 0.15 to 0.8\,M$_{\sun}$.A trend toward a lower mass ratio with larger separation is suggested in ONC binaries which is not seen in Tau-Aur binaries.The components of ONC binaries are found to be significantly more coeval than the overall ONC population and as coeval as components of binaries in Tau-Aur and Oph[...]
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2013; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first high-angular resolution survey for multiple systems among very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs in the Hyades open cluster. Using the Keck\,II adaptive optics system, we observed a complete sample of 16 objects with estimated masses $\lesssim$0.1 Msun. We have identified three close binaries with projected separation $\lesssim$0.11", or $\lesssim$5 AU. A number of wide, mostly faint candidate companions are also detected in our images, most of which are revealed as unrelated background sources based on astrometric and/or photometric considerations. The derived multiplicity frequency, 19+13/-6 % over the 2-350 AU range, and the rarity of systems wider than 10 AU are both consistent with observations of field very low-mass objects. In the limited 3-50 AU separation range, the companion frequency is essentially constant from brown dwarfs to solar-type stars in the Hyades cluster, which is also in line with our current knowledge for field stars. Combining the binaries discovered in this surveys with those already known in the Pleiades cluster reveals that very low-mass binaries in open clusters, as well as in star-forming regions, are skewed toward lower mass ratios ($0.6 \lesssim q \lesssim 0.8$) than are their field counterparts, a result that cannot be accounted for by selection effects. Although the possibility of severe systematic errors in model-based mass estimates for very low-mass stars cannot be completely excluded, it is unlikely to explain this difference. We speculate that this trend indicates that surveys among very low-mass field stars may have missed a substantial population of intermediate mass ratio systems, implying that these systems are more common and more diverse than previously thought.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 06/2013; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present new observations and analysis of G2 - the intriguing red emission-line object which is quickly approaching the Galaxy's central black hole. The observations were obtained with the laser guide star adaptive optics systems on the W. M. Keck I and II telescopes and include spectroscopy (R ~ 3600) centered on the Hydrogen Br-gamma line as well as K' (2.1 micrometer) and L' (3.8 micrometer) imaging. Analysis of these observations shows the Br-gamma line emission has a positional offset from the L' continuum. This offset is likely due to background source confusion at L'. We therefore present the first orbital solution derived from Br-gamma line astrometry, which when coupled with radial velocity measurements, results in a later time of closest approach (2014.21 +/- 0.14), closer periastron (130 AU, 1900Rs), and higher eccentricity (0.9814 +/- 0.0060) compared to a solution using L' astrometry. The new orbit casts doubt on previous associations of G2 and a low surface brightness "tail". It is shown that G2 has no K' counterpart down to K' ~ 20 mag. G2's L' continuum and the Br-gamma line-emission is unresolved in almost all epochs; however it is marginally extended in our highest quality Br-gamma data set from 2006 and exhibits a clear velocity gradient at that time. While the observations altogether suggest that G2 has a gaseous component which is tidally interacting with the central black hole, there is likely a central star providing the self-gravity necessary to sustain the compact nature of this object.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 04/2013; 773(1). · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have made the first detection of a near-infrared counterpart associated with the disk around Radio Source "I," a massive protostar in the Kleinmann-Low Nebula in Orion using imaging with laser guide star adaptive optics on the Keck II telescope. The infrared emission is evident in images acquired using L' (3.8 microns) and Ms (4.7 microns) filters and is not detectable at K' (2.1 microns). The observed morphology strongly suggests that we are seeing some combination of scattered and thermal light emanating from the disk. The disk is also manifest in the L'/Ms flux ratio image. We interpret the near-infrared emission as the illuminated surface of a nearly edge-on disk, oriented so that only the northern face is visible; the opposite surface remains hidden by the disk. We do not see infrared radiation associated directly with the star proposed to be associated with Source "I." The data also suggest that there is a cavity above and below the disk that is oriented perpendicular to the disk, and is sculpted by the known, strong outflow from the inner disk of Source I. We compare our data to models of a protostar with a surrounding disk, envelope, and wind-blown cavity in order to elucidate the nature of the disk around Radio Source I.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2013; 770(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way plays host to a massive, young cluster that may have formed in one of the most inhospitable environments in the Galaxy. We present new measurements of the global properties of this cluster, including the initial mass function (IMF), age, and cluster mass. These results are based on Keck laser-guide-star adaptive optics observations used to identify the young stars and measure their Kp-band luminosity function as presented in Do et al. 2013. A Bayesian inference methodology is developed to simultaneously fit the global properties of the cluster utilizing the observations and extensive simulations of synthetic star clusters. We find that the slope of the mass function for this cluster is \alpha = 1.7 +/- 0.2, which is steeper than previously reported, but still flatter than the traditional Salpeter slope of 2.35. The age of the cluster is between 2.5-5.8 Myr with 95% confidence, which is a younger age than typically adopted but consistent within the uncertainties of past measurements. The exact age of the cluster is difficult to determine since our results show two distinct age solutions (3.9 Myr and 2.8 Myr) due to model degeneracies in the relative number of Wolf-Rayet and OB stars. The total cluster mass is between 14,000 - 37,000 \msun above 1 \msun and it is necessary to include multiple star systems in order to fit the observed luminosity function and the number of observed Wolf-Rayet stars. The new IMF slope measurement is now consistent with X-ray observations indicating a factor of 10 fewer X-ray emitting pre-main-sequence stars than expected when compared with a Salpeter IMF. The young cluster at the Galactic center is one of the few definitive examples of an IMF that deviates significantly from the near-universal IMFs found in the solar neighborhood.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2013; 764(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

5k Citations
749.61 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014
    • Wellesley College
      Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1970–2014
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      • • Division of Astronomy & Astrophysics
      • • Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 2012
    • Indiana University Bloomington
      • Department of Astronomy
      Bloomington, Indiana, United States
  • 2001–2010
    • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
      Livermore, California, United States
  • 1992–2007
    • California Institute of Technology
      Pasadena, California, United States
  • 2005
    • Pennsylvania State University
      • Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
      University Park, Maryland, United States
  • 1994
    • The University of Arizona
      • Department of Astronomy
      Tucson, Arizona, United States