The Shortest-Known–Period Star Orbiting Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole

Stars with short orbital periods  at the centre of our Galaxy offer a powerful and unique probe of the nearest supermassive black hole. Observing these stars is a long-term astrophysical experiment that has been going on for two decades. In this talk I will outline this project and discuss the observational challenges and the strategies to overcome them. Steady technological and methodological advances allow us to improve the accuracy of the orbital solutions and have recently led to the discovery of S0-102, a star with a period of just 11.5 years. S0-102 doubles the number of known stars with full phase coverage and periods of less than 20 years. It thereby provides the opportunity, with future measurements, to resolve degeneracies in the parameters describing the central gravitational potential and to test general relativity in a yet unexplored regime.

18/04/2013 - 14:30
Dr. Rainer Schoedel