University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

Physics Colloquium

Friday, March 9, 2018
3:30pm – 4:30pm

Storrs Campus
Physics Building, Room PB-38

Dr. Betsy Mills, Department of Astronomy, Boston University

Journey to the center of the Galaxy: following gas accretion from hundreds of parsecs to the black hole

The central 300 pc of the Milky Way is a reservoir of hot and turbulent dense gas that surrounds, and may in the future feed, a quiescent supermassive black hole. Fully constraining the physical conditions of this gas is critical for understanding how this central gas concentration will evolve, and influence future nuclear activity. I will present the results of my recent work following the changes in physical properties of this gas as it approaches the black hole; increasing in temperature, density, and turbulence, while largely resisting the onset of star formation. This is the strongest evidence yet that the extreme gas conditions in this region are driven by accretion and infall processes. One of the greatest remaining challenges in relating the physical conditions of the gas with its location in the central potential is our edge-on view of this region, which complicates the determination of 3D positions. I will discuss prospects for better constraining Galactocentric distance in this environment and testing current orbital models. I will also address future prospects for measuring the infall rate as a function of radius in this region. Finally, as there is a limit to the conclusions that can be drawn from just one galaxy nucleus, I will preview the advances in our understanding of gas accretion in nuclei that are now possible via comparisons to high resolution ALMA observations of the center of NGC 253, a galaxy with an order of magnitude more star formation and molecular gas, where this gas is not only accreting but also outflowing.

Coffee will be served prior to the talk, at 3:00 p.m., In Room P-103


Prof. C. Battersby

Physics Department (primary)

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