TANNER A., GHEZ A.M., MORRIS M., BECKLIN E.E., COTERA A., RESSLER M., WERNER M. and WIZINOWICH P.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present diffraction-limited 2-25 µm images obtained with the W. M. Keck 10 m telescopes that spatially resolve the cool source IRS 21, one of a small group of enigmatic objects in the central parsec of our Galaxy that have eluded classification. Modeled as a Gaussian, the azimuthally averaged intensity profile of IRS 21 has a half-width at half-maximum (HWHM) size of 650±80 AU at 2.2 µm and an average HWHM size of 1600±200 AU at mid-infrared wavelengths. These large apparent sizes imply an extended distribution of dust. The mid-infrared color map indicates that IRS 21 is a self-luminous source rather than an externally heated dust clump as originally suggested. The spectral energy distribution has distinct near- and mid-infrared components. A simple radiative transfer code, which simultaneously fits the near- and mid-infrared photometry and intensity profiles, supports a model in which the near-infrared radiation is scattered and extincted light from an embedded central source, while the mid-infrared emission is from thermally reradiating silicate dust. We argue that IRS 21 (and by analogy, the other luminous sources along the Northern Arm) is a massive star experiencing rapid mass loss and plowing through the Northern Arm, thereby generating a bow shock, which is spatially resolved in our observations.
Galaxy: Center - Infrared: Stars