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          Institute: MPI für extraterrestrische Physik     Collection: Infrared and Submillimeter Astronomy     Display Documents



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ID: 17006.0, MPI für extraterrestrische Physik / Infrared and Submillimeter Astronomy
A star in a 15.2-year orbit around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way
Authors:Schödel, R.; Ott, T.; Genzel, R.; Hofmann, R.; Lehnert, M.; Eckart, A.; Mouawad, N.; Alexander, T.; Reid, M. J.; Lenzen, R.; Hartung, M.; Lacombe, F.; Rouan, D.; Gendron, E.; Rousset, G.; Lagrange, A.-M.; Brandner, W.; Ageorges, N.; Lidman, C.; Moorwood, A. F. M.; Spyromilio, J.; Hubin, N.; Menten, K. M.
Language:English
Date of Publication (YYYY-MM-DD):2002
Title of Journal:Nature
Volume:419
Start Page:694
End Page:696
Review Status:Peer-review
Audience:Experts Only
Abstract / Description:Many galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their centres(1)-more than a million times the mass of the Sun. Measurements of stellar velocities(2-7) and the discovery of variable X-ray emission(8) have provided strong evidence in favour of such a black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, but have hitherto been unable to rule out conclusively the presence of alternative concentrations of mass. Here we report ten years of high-resolution astrometric imaging that allows us to trace two-thirds of the orbit of the star currently closest to the compact radio source (and massive black-hole candidate) Sagittarius A(star). The observations, which include both pericentre and apocentre passages, show that the star is on a bound, highly elliptical keplerian orbit around Sgr A(star), with an orbital period of 15.2 years and a pericentre distance of only 17 light hours. The orbit with the best fit to the observations requires a central point mass of (3.7 +/- 1.5) x 10(6) solar masses (M-.). The data no longer allow for a central mass composed of a dense cluster of dark stellar objects or a ball of massive, degenerate fermions.
External Publication Status:published
Document Type:Article
Communicated by:N. N.
Affiliations:MPI für extraterrestrische Physik
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