SCYON Abstract

Received on December 28 2000

Starburst Clusters in Galactic Nuclei

AuthorsDonald F. Figer 1,2
Mark Morris 3
Affiliation1 STScI, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218
2 JHU, 3400 Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
3 UCLA, Division of Astronomy, 405 Hilgard Avenue, LA CA 90095-1562
Submitted toConference proceedings
LinksCentral parsec / Arches / Quintuplet


Galactic nuclei often harbor a disproportionately large amount of star formation activity with respect to their surrounding disks. Not coincidentally, the density of molecular material in galactic nuclei is often also much greater than that in disks (Table 1 in Kennicutt 1998). The interplay between rich populations of young stars and dense molecular environments is evident in our own Galactic center, which hosts over 10% of Galactic star formation activity within only <0.1% of the volume of the Galactic disk.

Data obtained with the VLA and HST reveal a variety of star forming sites in the Galactic Center, including a substantial population of stars that are formed in very dense and massive clusters, while other stars are formed in somewhat sparsely populated associations of massive stars. Indeed, three of the stellar clusters are the most massive and densest in the Galaxy.

In this paper, we discuss the Galactic center environment and its compact young star clusters, and compare them to their counterparts in star forming galactic nuclei, concluding that dense molecular environments and large velocity dispersions combine to alter star formation activity in both cases, particularly as regards massive young clusters.