Institute of Astronomy

Bringing our Galaxy's Supermassive Black Hole and its Environs into Focus with Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Andrea Ghez, UCLA12 March 2009Institute of Astronomy Colloquia


The proximity of our Galaxy's center presents a unique opportunity to
study a
massive black hole and its environs with much higher spatial resolution
than can be brought to bear on any other galaxy. After more than a
decade of
astrometry from diffraction-limited speckle imaging on large ground-
based telescopes,
the case for a supermassive black hole at the Galactic center has
dramatically improved, thanks to measurements of
individual stellar orbits. The advent of adaptive optics
technology has further revolutionized our studies of the Galactic
In this talk, I will present the results of several new adaptive optics
studies on (1) our current understanding of the galaxy's
central gravitational potential, (2) the puzzling problem of
how young stars form in the immediate vicinity of the central black hole
(3) the characteristics of the under-luminous emission associated with
central black hole (L = 10^-9 L_ed), and (4) the role of future large ground-based telescope to these studies.


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