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Star formation is spatially clustered across a range of environments, from dense stellar clusters to unbound associations. As a result, radiative or dynamical interactions with neighbouring stars disrupt (proto)planetary systems and limit their radii, leaving a lasting impact on their potential habitability. In the solar neighbourhood, we find that the vast majority of stars form in unbound associations, such that the interaction of (proto)planetary systems with neighbouring stars is limited to the densest sub-regions. However, the fraction of star formation occurring in compact clusters was considerably higher in the past, peaking at ∼50% in the young Milky Way at redshift z ∼ 2. These results demonstrate that the large-scale star formation environment affects the demographics of planetary systems and the occupation of the habitable zone. We show that planet formation is governed by multi-scale physics, in which Mpc-scale events such as galaxy mergers affect the AU-scale properties of (proto)planetary systems.
The Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), the inner 450 pc of our Galaxy, is an exceptional region where the volume and column densities, gas temperatures, velocity dispersions, etc. are much higher than in the Galactic plane. It has been suggested that the formation of stars and clusters in this area is related to the orbital dynamics of the gas. The complex kinematic structure of the molecular gas was revealed by spectral line observations. However, these results are limited to the line-of-sight-velocities. To fully understand the motions of the gas within the CMZ, we have to know its location in 6D space (3D location + 3D motion). Recent orbital models have tried to explain the inflow of gas towards and its kinematics within this region. With parallax and proper motion measurements of masers in the CMZ we can discriminate among these models and constrain how our Galactic Center is fed with gas.
In 1769 Joseph Wright of Derby painted an unusual portrait of Thomas Staniforth, a Liverpool merchant with interests in rope-making, Greenland whaling and the African slave trade (see Image 3.1). The face has livid hues of yellows, reds and pinks, an artistic experiment that Wright rarely repeated. Apart from this astonishing portrait, Staniforth disappeared from the mainstream historical record along with many of his mercantile contemporaries from eighteenth-century Liverpool. Even when the portrait was displayed at the Tate Gallery after its purchase in 1965 there was only an oblique reference to Staniforth's mercantile concerns, exemplifying the somewhat myopic public attitude to the slave trade which remained widespread until the bicentenary of its abolition in 2007. By May 2007 there had been a significant shift, the display caption on the Tate's website noting:
Although the slave trade is now considered despicable, there is nothing in Staniforth's portrait to suggest the source of his wealth. Can we detect a hint of cruelty in his cool gaze? […] Wright's portrait seems simply to represent a businessman keen to project the sense of hard-nosed realism that was necessary to succeed in this highly risky trade.
These speculative observations underline the fact that remarkably little is known about the mentality of these key agents in the transfer of thousands of Africans into slavery in the second half of the eighteenth century. Although Liverpool dominated the slave trade in this period, the attitudes of the core of major investors are difficult to discern, despite the fact that slavery became an increasingly contested issue from the 1780s. David Pope has analysed 1,724 investors in Liverpool slaving vessels in the period 1750–1807 and identified approximately 247 individuals who were involved in 20 or more voyages. Pope's meticulous scholarship has also revealed some of the biographical details of his core group of leading slave traders, including their parentage, the value of their personal estates on death and property ownership indicated by the Lists of Lancashire Freeholders of 1794–1795 and the Land Tax Assessments of 1798. Yet, despite this wealth of data, frustratingly little is revealed about the mindset of the Liverpool slave trader, especially major investors such as Thomas Staniforth, who was among the group of the 70 largest traders with 50 or more voyages.
The high-velocity compact cloud CO–0.40–0.22 was mapped in 22 molecular lines with the NRO 45 m radio telescope and the ASTE 10 m telescope. The map of each detected line shows that this cloud has a compact appearance (d≃3 pc) and extremely broad velocity width (Δ V≃100 km s−1). The representative position–velocity map along the major axis shows that CO–0.40–0.22 consists of an intense region with a shallow velocity gradient and a less intense high-velocity wing. This kinematical structure can be attributed to a gravitational kick to the molecular cloud caused by an invisible compact object with a mass of ~105M⊙. Its compactness and the absence of a counterpart at other wavelengths suggest that this massive object is an intermediate-mass black hole.
Ground-state OH masers identified in the Southern Parkes Large-Area Survey in Hydroxyl were observed with the Australia Telescope Compact Array to obtain positions with high accuracy (~1 arcsec). We classified these OH masers into evolved star OH maser sites, star formation OH maser sites, supernova remnant OH maser sites, planetary nebula OH maser sites and unknown maser sites using their accurate positions. Evolved star and star formation OH maser sites in the Galactic Centre region (between Galactic longitudes of −5° to +5° and Galactic latitudes of −2° and +2°) were studied in detail to understand their distributions.
Sagittarius A* is the closest example of a supermassive black hole and our proximity allows us to detect emission from its accretion flow in the radio, submillimeter, near IR, and X-ray regimes. Ambitious monitoring campaigns have yielded rich multi-wavelength, time-resolved data that have the power to probe the physical processes underlying Sgr A*’s quiescent and flare emission. Here, I review the status of Sgr A* X-ray monitoring campaigns from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (also XMM Newton, and Swift), and efforts to coordinate these with observations across the electromagnetic spectrum. I also discuss how these observations constrain models for Sgr A*’s variability, which range from tidal disruption of asteroids to gravitational lensing to collimated outflows to magnetic reconnection.
We summarize work on the central parsec of the Galactic center based on imaging and spectroscopic observations at the Keck and Gemini telescopes. These observations include stellar positions in two dimension and the velocity in three dimensions. Spectroscopic observations also enables measurements of the physical properties of individual stars, such as the spectral type and in some cases the effective temperature, metallicity, and surface gravity. These observations show a complex stellar population with a young (4-6 Myr) compact star cluster in the central 0.5 pc embedded in in an older and much more massive nuclear star cluster. Surprisingly, the old late-type giants do not show a cusp profile as long been expected from theoretical work. The majority of the stars have higher than solar metallicity, with only about 6% of the stars having [M/Fe] < −0.5, which is consistent with an origin from the MW disk.
The submm Hydrogen recombination line technique can be used as a probe of the Galactic Center. We present the results of our H30α observations of ionized gas from within 0.015 pc around SgrA*. The observations were obtained on ALMA in cycle 3. The line was not detected, but we were able to set a limit on the mass of the cool gas (T~ 104 K) at 2 × 10−3M⊙. This is the unique probe of gas cooler than T ~106 K traced by X-ray emission. The total amount of gas near SgrA* gives us clues to understanding the accretion rate of SgrA*.
The Galactic center is a perfect laboratory for testing various theoretical models of accretion flows onto a supermassive black hole. Here, I review general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations that were used to model emission from the central object - Sgr A*. These models predict dynamical and radiative properties of hot, magnetized, thick accretion disks with jets around a Kerr black hole. Models are compared to radio-VLBI, mm-VLBI, NIR, and X-ray observations of Sgr A*. I present the recent constrains on the free parameters of the model such as accretion rate onto the black hole, the black hole angular momentum, and orientation of the system with respect to our line of sight.
We report serendipitous detections of line emission with ALMA in band 3, 6, and 7 in the central parsec of the Galactic center at an up to now highest resolution (<0.7″). Among the highlights are the very first and highly resolved images of sub-mm molecular emission of CS, H13CO+, HC3N, SiO, SO, C2H, and CH3OH in the immediate vicinity (~1″ in projection) of Sgr A* and in the circumnuclear disk (CND). The central association (CA) of molecular clouds shows three times higher CS/X (X: any other observed molecule) luminosity ratios than the CND suggesting a combination of higher excitation - by a temperature gradient and/or IR-pumping - and abundance enhancement due to UV- and/or X-ray emission. We conclude that the CA is closer to the center than the CND is and could be an infalling clump consisting of denser cloud cores embedded in diffuse gas. Moreover, we identified further regions in and outside the CND that are ideally suited for future studies in the scope of hot/cold core and extreme PDR/XDR chemistry and consequent star formation in the central few parsecs.
The history of supermassive black holes’ activity can be partly constrained by monitoring the diffuse X-ray emission possibly created by the echoes of past events propagating through the molecular clouds of their respective environments. In particular, using this method we have demonstrated that our Galaxy’s supermassive black hole, Sgr A⋆, has experienced multiple periods of higher activity in the last centuries, likely due to several short but very energetic events, and we now investigate the possibility of studying the past activity of other supermassive black holes by applying the same method to M31⋆. We set strong constraints on putative phase transitions of this more distant galactic nucleus but the existence of short events such as the ones observed in the Galactic center cannot be assessed with the upper limits we derived.
The inner region of the Milky Way is one of the most interesting and complex regions of the γ-ray sky. Intense interstellar emission and point sources contribute to it, as well as other potential components such as an unresolved population of point sources and dark matter. In recent years, claims have been made of an excess consistent with a dark matter annihilation signal in the data collected with the Fermi Large Area Telescope (Fermi–LAT). Although these results are intriguing, the complexity involved in modeling the foreground and background emission from conventional astrophysical sources of γ-rays makes a conclusive interpretation of these results challenging. In these proceedings, I discuss Fermi–LAT observations of the Galactic center region, the methodology for point source detection and treatment of the interstellar emission, the characterization of the GeV excess, and implications for dark matter.
High-velocity compact clouds (HVCCs) is one of the populations of peculiar clouds detected in the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) of our Galaxy. They have compact appearances (< 5 pc) and large velocity widths (> 50 km s−1). Several explanations for the origin of HVCC were proposed; e.g., a series of supernovae (SN) explosions (Oka et al. 1999) or a gravitational kick by a point-like gravitational source (Oka et al. 2016). To investigate the statistical property of HVCCs, a complete list of them is acutely necessary. However, the previous list is not complete since the identification procedure included automated processes and manual selection (Nagai 2008). Here we developed an automated procedure to identify HVCCs in a spectral line data.
We present recent observation results of Sgr A* at millimeter obtained with VLBI arrays in Korea and Japan.
7 mm monitoring of Sgr A* is part of our AGN large project. The results at 7 epochs during 2013-2014, including high resolution maps, flux density and two-dimensional size measurements are presented. The source shows no significant variation in flux and structure related to the G2 encounter in 2014. According to recent MHD simulations by kawashima et al., flux and magnetic field energy can be expected to increase several years after the encounter; We will keep our monitoring in order to test this prediction.
Astrometric observations of Sgr A* were performed in 2015 at 7 and 3.5 millimeter simultaneously. Source-frequency phase referencing was applied and a combined ”core-shift” of Sgr A* and a nearby calibrator was measured. Future observations and analysis are necessary to determine the core-shift in each source.
The environment within the inner few hundred parsecs of the Milky Way, known as the “Central Molecular Zone” (CMZ), harbours densities and pressures orders of magnitude higher than the Galactic Disc; akin to that at the peak of cosmic star formation (Kruijssen & Longmore 2013). Previous studies have shown that current theoretical star-formation models under-predict the observed level of star-formation (SF) in the CMZ by an order of magnitude given the large reservoir of dense gas it contains. Here we explore potential reasons for this apparent dearth of star formation activity.
The Galactic centre region shows outstanding non-circular motion unlike the Galactic disk. As scenarios describing this non-circular motion, resonance orbits formed by the Galactic bar potential or expanding motion by past activity of the central BH are proposed. However, these both scenarios are based on line-of-sight velocities of molecular clouds in this region, and such one-dimension velocity information is insufficient to separate these scenarios.
To reveal dynamics of the Galactic centre region, we conducted astromertic observations of 22 GHz water maser sources toward the Galactic centre direction. We conducted astrometric observations toward water maser source associated with Sgr D HII region. As a result, we succeeded to measure the parallax and proper motion of the maser source. The measured distance was 2.36(+0.58/-0.39) kpc. This result clearly indicates that this source is not associated with the Galactic centre, but located on the Galactic disk.
We present constraints on the variability and binarity of young stars in the central 10 arcseconds (~ 0.4 pc) of the Milky Way Galactic Center (GC) using Keck Adaptive Optics data over a 12 year baseline. Given our experiment’s photometric uncertainties, at least 36% of our sample’s known early-type stars are variable. We identified eclipsing binary systems by searching for periodic variability. In our sample of spectroscopically confirmed and likely early-type stars, we detected the two previously discovered GC eclipsing binary systems. We derived the likely binary fraction of main sequence, early-type stars at the GC via Monte Carlo simulations of eclipsing binary systems, and find that it is at least 32% with 90% confidence.
The Millimetre Astronomy Legacy Team 90 GHz survey aims to characterise the physical and chemical evolution of high-mass clumps. Recently completed, it mapped 90 GHz line emission towards 3 246 high-mass clumps identified from the ATLASGAL 870 μm Galactic plane survey. By utilising the broad frequency coverage of the Mopra telescope’s spectrometer, maps in 16 different emission lines were simultaneously obtained. Here, we describe the first catalogue of the detected line emission, generated by Gaussian profile fitting to spectra extracted towards each clumps’ 870 μm dust continuum peak. Synthetic spectra show that the catalogue has a completeness of > 95%, a probability of a false-positive detection of < 0.3%, and a relative uncertainty in the measured quantities of < 20% over the range of detection criteria. The detection rates are highest for the (1–0) transitions of HCO+, HNC, N2H+, and HCN (~77–89%). Almost all clumps (~95%) are detected in at least one of the molecular transitions, just over half of the clumps (~53%) are detected in four or more of the transitions, while only one clump is detected in 13 transitions. We find several striking trends in the ensemble of properties for the different molecular transitions when plotted as a function of the clumps’ evolutionary state as estimated from Spitzer mid-IR images, including (1) HNC is relatively brighter in colder, less evolved clumps than those that show active star formation, (2) N2H+ is relatively brighter in the earlier stages, (3) that the observed optical depth decreases as the clumps evolve, and (4) the optically thickest HCO+ emission shows a ‘blue-red asymmetry’ indicating overall collapse that monotonically decreases as the clumps evolve. This catalogue represents the largest compiled database of line emission towards high-mass clumps and is a valuable data set for detailed studies of these objects.
We infer the absolute time dependence of kinematic gas temperature along a proposed orbit of molecular clouds in the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) of the Galactic Center (GC). Ammonia gas temperature maps are one of the results of the “Survey of Water and Ammonia in the Galactic Center” (SWAG, PI: J. Ott); the dynamical model of molecular clouds in the CMZ was taken from Kruijssen et al. (2015). We find that gas temperatures increase as a function of time in both regimes before and after the cloud passes pericenter on its orbit in the GC potential. This is consistent with the recent proposal that pericenter passage triggers gravitational collapse. Other investigated quantities (line width, column density, opacity) show no strong sign of time dependence but are likely dominated by cloud-to-cloud variations.
Hitomi (ASTRO-H) is an X-ray observatory developed by an international collaboration led by JAXA. An X-ray microcalorimeter onboard this satellite has opened a new window of high-resolution spectroscopy with an unprecedented energy resolution of 5 eV (FWHM) at 6 keV. The spacecraft was launched on February 17, 2016 from Tanegashima Island, Japan, and we completed initial operations including deployment of the hard X-ray imagers on the extensible optical bench. All scientific instruments had successfully worked until the sudden loss of the mission on March 26. We have obtained a spectrum showing fully resolved emission lines through the first-light observation of the Perseus Cluster. The line-of-sight velocity dispersion of 164 ± 10 km s−1 reveals the quiescent environment of intracluster medium at the cluster core, implying that measured cluster mass requires little correction for the turbulent pressure. We also discuss observations to the Galactic Center which could be performed with Hitomi.