AR 16121 (Archival Research)

Mon Jul 15 04:46:32 GMT 2024

Principal Investigator: Tuan Do
PI Institution: University of California - Los Angeles
Investigators (xml)

Title: Testing models of star formation in extreme environments with star clusters at the Galactic center
Cycle: 28

The Galactic center offers us an opportunity to study star formation in an extreme environment at a level of detail not accessible in any other galaxy. However, it is current unclear how the combination of high gas densities, strong cloud turbulence, radiation fields, and tidal shear in this environment affect star formation. It has been postulated that star formation can be triggered by molecular cloud collisions among the X1 and X2 galactic orbital families, or more recently, by tidal compression of clouds on a particular orbit that forms a "conveyor belt of star formation". These two theories make different predictions regarding the orbits of molecular clouds and sites of star formation at the Galactic Center. We propose to test these models by measuring the proper motions of young star clusters in the central 100 pc of the Milky Way, which due to their young age, trace the orbit of their natal clouds. We will leverage 34 orbits of archival HST WFC3-IR observations and the GAIA DR2 catalog to definitively measure the absolute proper motion of 3 young clusters: the Arches and Quintuplet cluster, and a newly discovered candidate cluster. Their motion will allow us to distinguish between these star formation scenarios, yielding insight into the physical processes and time scales involved in star formation at the Galactic Center.