Galactic Center

We are members of the Galactic Center Group at UCLA. In the muLab, we focus on the following Galactic Center science cases and methodologies:

  • Dynamics and Initial Mass Function (IMF) of Young Nuclear Cluster

  • Improved astrometry for stellar orbits and binary searches

  • Gravitational lensing by stellar mass black holes and the supermassive black hole

Dynamics and Initial Mass Function (IMF) of the Young Nuclear Cluster:

Our Galactic Center hosts a supermassive black hole, around which a nuclear star cluster (NSC) resides. There are early (young) and late-type (old) stars within central parsecs of Galactic Center. The young nuclear cluster is particularly interesting as it indicates that star formation can occur in this region, despite the harsh conditions and strong tidal forces. However, the star formation process is likely very unusual.

We measure the IMF as a probe for how the star formation process changes in this environment.

Current Members at Berkeley: Jessica Lu, Ruoyi Yin, Ningyuan Xu

Improved astrometry for stellar orbit in the Galactic Center:

The accurate and precise astrometric measurements for stellar populations in Galatic Center is important for solving puzzles such as missing cusp problem, dynamical properties and IMF of stars within central parsec, characterizing more accurate 3D orbits of stars, binary-star candidates and General Relativity from supermassive black hole.

Improved astrometry can be achieved from transforming astrometric and photometric data of stars into a common coordinate system, deriving better measurements for positionsm, proper motions, accelerations and thus orbits.

Current Members at Berkeley: Jessica Lu, Sean Terry