AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 84. Studying the Anatomy of the Milky Way
Display, Thursday, June 3, 1999, 9:20am-4:00pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[84.01] Reconstruction of Stellar Orbits Close to Sagittarius A*

P.C. Fragile, G.J. Mathews (Notre Dame)

We utilize observed proper motions to deduce orbital parameters for 8 stars located within 0.5" of the Galactic Center. Based upon these parameters, we make predictions for their possible locations in future observations. We conclude that it is quite likely that at least 2 of the stars have orbits which pass close to the supermassive black hole at the galactic core. Some interesting properties are noted, such as speeds in excess of 1.5% of the speed of light, orbital periods of less than 10 years, and possibilities for tidal disruption/excitation of the stars. Most importantly, some measurable general relativistic effects may be tested in these orbits, such as an apogee shift of 0.01" on the sky over a 17 year orbit and detectable, gravitational redshift changes as the stars pass by the black hole.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under grant Phy 97-22086.

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