The Milky Way Nuclear Star Cluster in Context

Schödel, R. 
The Galactic Center: a Window to the Nuclear Environment of Disk Galaxies. Proceedings of a workshop held at Shanghai, China on October 19-23, 2009. Edited by Mark R. Morris, Q. Daniel Wang, and Feng Yuan. San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2011, p.222


Nuclear star clusters are located at the dynamical centers of the majority of galaxies. They are usually the densest and most massive star cluster in their host galaxy. In this article, I will give a brief overview of our current knowledge on nuclear star clusters and their formation. Subsequently, I will introduce the nuclear star cluster at the center of the Milky Way, that surrounds the massive black hole, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). This cluster is a unique template for understanding nuclear star clusters in general because it is the only one of its kind which we can resolve into individual stars. Thus, we can study its structure, dynamics, and population in detail. I will summarize our current knowledge of the Milky Way nuclear star cluster, discuss its relation with nuclear clusters in other galaxies and point out where further research is needed.