The star formation history of the Milky Way's nuclear star cluster.
PFUHL O., FRITZ T.K., ZILKA M., MANESS H., EISENHAUER F., GENZEL R., GILLESSEN S., OTT T., DODDS-EDEN K. and STERNBERG A.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present spatially resolved imaging and integral field spectroscopy data for 450 cool giant stars within 1 pc from Sgr A*. We use the prominent CO bandheads to derive effective temperatures of individual giants. Additionally we present the deepest spectroscopic observation of the Galactic center (GC) so far, probing the number of B9/A0 main-sequence stars (2.2-2.8 M☉) in two deep fields. From spectrophotometry we construct a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of the red giant population and fit the observed diagram with model populations to derive the star formation history of the nuclear cluster. We find (1) that the average nuclear star formation rate dropped from an initial maximum ∼10 Gyr ago to a deep minimum 1-2 Gyr ago and increased again during the last few hundred Myrs, (2) that roughly 80% of the stellar mass formed more than 5 Gyr ago, and (3) that mass estimates within R ∼ 1 pc from Sgr A* favor a dominant star formation mode with a "normal" Chabrier/Kroupa initial mass function for the majority of the past star formation in the GC. The bulk stellar mass seems to have formed under conditions significantly different from the young stellar disks, perhaps because at the time of the formation of the nuclear cluster the massive black hole and its sphere of influence were much smaller than today.
galaxies: star formation - Galaxy: center - Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams - stars: late-type - stars: luminosity function, mass function