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Amazing Light pp 257-271 | Cite as

The Galactic Center: Star Formation and Mass Distribution in the Central Parsec

  • Reinhard Genzel

Abstract

The nucleus of the Milky Way (adopted distance 8.5 kpc) is one hundred times closer to the Earth than the nearest large external galaxy, M31 (the Andromeda galaxy) and more than a thousand times closer than the nearest active galactic nuclei. Astronomers can therefore study physical processes happening in our own Galactic Center at a level of detail that will never be reached in the more distant, but usually also more spectacular systems. What powers these nuclei and how do they evolve? Do dormant massive black holes reside in their cores? While the black hole model has been the standard paradigm for explaining quasars and other luminous (active) galactic nuclei for about 30 years, there is no definitive proof yet that massive black holes exist. Because of its proximity the Galactic Center thus may be our best chance to test the black hole paradigm and determine the physics of the central core. Charlie Townes has followed this vision for about twenty years.

Keywords

Black Hole Star Formation Very Long Baseline Interferometry Stellar Cluster Stellar Velocity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1996

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  • Reinhard Genzel

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