AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 109. Galactic Center and Milky Way Formation
Oral, Wednesday, January 9, 2002, 10:00-11:30am, Jefferson East

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[109.01] UMass/Columbia Galactic Center Chandra Survey: The Nature of the X-ray Emission from the Galactic Central Region\\

Q. D. Wang (U. of Massachusetts), E. V. Gotthelf (Columbia U.), C. C. Lang (U. of Massachusetts)

The origin of the X-ray emission from the central region of our Galaxy remains a mystery, despite extensive studies over the past two decades. We report on our first analysis from the UMass/Columbia Galactic Center X-ray Survey obtained with the Chandra observatory (See Posters by E. V. Gotthelf, et al. and by C. C. Lang, et al. for details). The arcsecond spatial resolution and sensitivity of this survey allows for the unprecedented seperation of the diffuse and point-like components of the emission. We find that the He-like Fe K\alpha emission, previously associated with diffuse emission, is largely due to discrete X-ray sources. A large fraction of these (1000+) newly detected sources are likely to be accreting white dwarfs, neutron stars, and/or black holes in the region. The diffuse X-ray emission shows large amounts of very hot gas associated with various interstellar structures observed at radio and mid-infrared wavelengths, suggesting a common origin in recent massive star formation. We further present spatial and spectral evidence for a nonthermal diffuse X-ray contribution from interstellar reflected radiation of variable luminous X-ray sources and/or from low energy cosmic-ray electrons. Finally, we show that the X-ray emission from the Galactic center region provides an important probe of the forces that shape the vertical interstellar structure near the Galactic center. These results from the unique laboratory of our own Galactic Center will help to correctly interpret X-ray observations of other galaxies.

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The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: wqd@astro.umass.edu

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