Heidelberg Joint Astronomical Colloquium

Speaker Rainer Schödel
Title Continually evolving: our understanding of the Galactic center

The center of the Milky Way serves as a unique template for quiescent galactic nuclei in spiral galaxies. Typically, such nuclei harbor a dense nuclear star cluster and a massive black hole at their photometrical and dynamical centers, although in some cases the black hole cannot be detected due to its low mass. Research on the Galactic center has been rapidly evolving in the past two decades, largely thanks to technical progress, with significant and often surprising discoveries occurring on timescales of a few months to a year. In this talk I will review our current understanding of the massive black hole and the nuclear star cluster of the Milky Way, with an emphasis on near-infrared observations. I will address, among others, the following topics: properties of the black hole Sagittarius A*, the absence of a stellar cusp around the central black hole, star formation in the central parsec of the Milky Way, hypervelocity stars, overall properties of the nuclear star cluster.