The Shortest-Known–Period Star Orbiting Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole

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Science  05 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6103, pp. 84-87
DOI: 10.1126/science.1225506

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  1. Fig. 1

    A Keck/NIRC2 AO image from May 2010 showing the short-period star S0-102, which is, besides S0-2, the only star with full orbital phase coverage, and the electromagnetic counterpart of the black hole, Sgr A*. The image was taken at a wavelength of 2.12 μm and shows the challenge of detecting S0-102, which is 16 times fainter than S0-2 and lies in this crowded region.

  2. Fig. 2

    The orbits of S0-2 (black) and S0-102 (red). RA, right ascension; DEC, declination. The data points and the best fits are shown. Both stars orbit clockwise. The dashed lines represent the parts of the orbits that have been observed with Speckle data; the solid lines indicate AO observations. The data points for S0-2 range from the year 1995 to 2012, and S0-102’s detections range from 2000 to 2012. The connecting lines to the best fit visualize the residuals. Although the best-fit orbits are not closing, the statistically allowed sets of orbital trajectories are consistent with a closed orbit. S0-102 has an orbital period of 11.5 years, which is 30% shorter than that of S0-2, the shortest-period star previously known.

  3. Fig. 3

    The orbital periods and magnitudes of all known stars orbiting the galactic black hole [(7, 8) and this paper]. The size of the points is scaled with the orbital phase that is covered by observations. The higher the fraction of the orbit that is sampled by observations, the more reliable the orbital solution is. The three vertical lines indicate, from left to right, the limiting magnitude for Speckle shift-and-add (SAA), Speckle holography (SpH), and AO data sets. We define the limiting magnitude as the median of the limiting magnitudes of individual epochs, which are listed in tables S2 and S3. The black circle represents the star S0-102.