Stars with short orbital periods at the center of our Galaxy offer a powerful probe of a supermassive black hole. Over the past 17 years, the W. M. Keck Observatory has been used to image the galactic center at the highest angular resolution possible today. By adding to this data set and advancing methodologies, we have detected S0-102, a star orbiting our Galaxy’s supermassive black hole 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 Einstein’s theory of general relativity in an unexplored regime.
- Pub Date:
- October 2012
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- Science, in press (published Oct 5, 2012). See Science Online for the Supplementary Material, or here: http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~ghezgroup/gc/research/S02_S0102_orbits.html