Massive star formation in the molecular ring orbiting the black hole at the galactic center

F. Yusef-Zadeh*, J. Braatz, M. Wardle, D. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


A ring of dense molecular gas extending 2-7 pc orbits the supermassive black hole Sgr A at the center of our Galaxy. Using the Green Bank Telescope, we detected water maser lines and both narrow (0.35 km s-1) and broad (30-50 km s-1) mefhanol emission from the molecular ring. Two of the strongest mefhanol lines at 44 GHz are confirmed as masers by interferometric observations. These Class I mefhanol masers are collisionally excited and are signatures of early phases of massive star formation in the disk of the Galaxy, suggesting that star formation in the molecular ring is in its early phase. Close inspection of the kinematics of the associated molecular clumps in the HCN (J=1-0) line reveals broad redshifted wings indicative of disturbance by pro-tostellar outflows from young (a few × 104 yr), massive stars embedded in the clumps. The thermal methanol profile has a similar shape, with a narrow maser line superimposed on a broad, redshifted wing. Additional evidence for the presence of young massive protostars is provided by shocked molecular hydrogen and a number of striking ionized and molecular linear filaments in the vicinity of methanol sources suggestive of 0.5 pc scale protostellar jets. Given that the circumnuclear molecular ring is kinematically unsettled and thus is likely be the result of a recent capture, the presence of both methanol emission and broad, redshifted HCN emission suggests that star formation in the circumnuclear ring is in its infancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L147-L150
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Center
  • Clouds
  • Formation
  • Galaxy
  • Ism
  • Jets and outflows
  • Molecules
  • Stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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