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Detection of faint stars near Sagittarius A* with GRAVITY

Abstract : The spin of the supermassive black hole that resides at the Galactic Center can, in principle, be measured by accurate measurements of the orbits of stars that are much closer to Sgr A* than S2, the orbit of which recently provided the measurement of the gravitational redshift and the Schwarzschild precession. The GRAVITY near-infrared interferometric instrument combining the four 8m telescopes of the VLT provides a spatial resolution of 2–4 mas, breaking the confusion barrier for adaptive-optics-assisted imaging with a single 8–10m telescope. We used GRAVITY to observe Sgr A* over a period of six months in 2019 and employed interferometric reconstruction methods developed in radio astronomy to search for faint objects near Sgr A*. This revealed a slowly moving star of magnitude 18.9 in the K-band within 30 mas of Sgr A*. The position and proper motion of the star are consistent with the previously known star S62, which is at a substantially greater physical distance, but in projection passes close to Sgr A*. Observations in August and September 2019 detected S29 easily, with K-magnitude of 16.6, at approximately 130 mas from Sgr A*. The planned upgrades of GRAVITY, and further improvements in the calibration, offer greater chances of finding stars fainter than K-magnitude of 19.Key words: Galaxy: center / stars: imaging / infrared: stars⋆ GRAVITY was developed as part of a collaboration by the Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics, LESIA of the Observatoire de Paris/Université PSL/CNRS/Sorbonne Université/Université de Paris and IPAG of Université Grenoble Alpes/CNRS, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, the University of Cologne, the CENTRA – Centro de Astrofisica e Gravitação, and the European Southern Observatory.⋆⋆ Corresponding authors: F. Gao, e-mail: fgao@mpe.mpg.de; T. Paumard, e-mail: thibaut.paumard@obspm.fr
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03171389
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 4:00:02 PM
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R. Abuter, A. Amorim, M. Bauböck, J.P. Berger, H. Bonnet, et al.. Detection of faint stars near Sagittarius A* with GRAVITY. Astron.Astrophys., 2021, 645, pp.A127. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/202039544⟩. ⟨hal-03171389⟩

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