On the origin of the B-stars in the galactic center

Ann Marie Madigan, Oliver Pfuhl, Yuri Levin, Stefan Gillessen, Reinhard Genzel, Hagai B. Perets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a new directly observable statistic that uses sky position (x, y) and proper motion (vx , vy ) of stars near the massive black hole in the Galactic center to identify populations with high orbital eccentricities. It is most useful for stars with large orbital periods for which dynamical accelerations are difficult to determine. We apply this statistic to a data set of B-stars with a projected radii 0.″1 < p < 25″ (∼0.004-1 pc) from the massive black hole in the Galactic center. We compare the results with those from N-body simulations to distinguish between scenarios for their formation. We find that the scenarios favored by the data correlate strongly with particular K-magnitude intervals, corresponding to different zero-age, main-sequence (MS) masses and lifetimes. Stars with 14 ≲ m K ≲ 15 (15-20 M,tMS = 8-13 Myr) match a disk formation origin well, whereas those with mK ≥ 15 (<15 M, tMS > 13 Myr), if isotropically distributed, form a population that is more eccentric than thermal, which suggests a Hills binary-disruption origin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2014


  • Galaxy: center
  • black hole physics
  • stars: kinematics and dynamics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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