On the number of young stellar discs in the Galactic Centre

Ulf Löckmann and Holger Baumgardt

Paper: MNRAS, 394, 1841-1846, 2009

Weblink: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/122245841/HTMLSTART

EPrint Server: 0901.1660


Observations of the Galactic Centre show evidence of disc-like structures of very young stars orbiting the central super-massive black hole within a distance of a few 0.1 pc. While it is widely accepted that about half of the stars form a relatively flat disc rotating clockwise on the sky, there is a substantial ongoing debate on whether there is a second, counter-clockwise disc of stars. By means of N-body simulations using our BHINT code, we show that two highly inclined stellar discs with the observed properties cannot be recognised as two flat circular discs after 5 Myr of mutual interaction. Instead, our calculations predict a significant warping of the two discs, which we show to be apparent among the structures observed in the Galactic Centre. While the high eccentricities of the observed counter-clockwise orbits suggest an eccentric origin of this system, we show the eccentricity distribution in the inner part of the more massive clockwise disc to be perfectly consistent with an initially circular disc in which stellar eccentricities increase due to both non-resonant and resonant relaxation. We conclude that the relevant question to ask is therefore not whether there are two discs of young stars, but whether there were two such discs to begin with.

Preprints available from the authors at uloeck@astro.uni-bonn.de , or the raw TeX (no figures) if you click here.

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