Professor Cornelia C. Lang; Department of Physics & Astronomy; University of Iowa
Professor Cornelia Lang; Department of Physics & Astronomy; University of Iowa.
The Central Molecular Zone of the Galaxy: Dense Molecular Clouds, Massive Stars and Magnetic Fields”
Abstract: In addition to harboring a supermassive black hole at its very core, the Galactic center is one of the most physically extreme environments in the Galaxy. Dense and massive molecular clouds on non-circular orbits are abundant in this region, yet star formation is not as active and frequent as expected. In addition, radio observations have revealed a population of synchrotron-emitting filaments that provide insight on the magnetic field strength and configuration in this unique region of the Galaxy. I will review observational results from several recent studies undertaken by my research group: we have examined the properties and kinematics of a group of unusual molecular clouds that appear to be part of an orbital “stream” of material around the Galactic center. In addition, we have been studying the detailed structure of the synchrotron-emitting radio filaments and their connection to larger-scale energetic outflows from the Galactic center. Our relative proximity to the Galactic center provides an unprecedented view of a galactic core and studies of this region can be used as an astrophysical analog to understanding the nuclei of more distant galaxies.