The stellar cusp around the Milky Way's central black hole

Schodel, R.; Gallego Cano, E.; Nogueras Lara, F.; Dong, H.; Gallego Calvente, T.
Highlights on Spanish Astrophysics IX, Proceedings of the XII Scientific Meeting of the Spanish Astronomical Society held on July 18-22, 2016, in Bilbao, Spain, ISBN 978-84-606-8760-3. S. Arribas, A. Alonso-Herrero, F. Figueras, C. Hernández-Monteagudo, A. Sánchez-Lavega, S. Pérez-Hoyos (eds.), p. 308-315 (2017).


The existence of stellar cusps in dense clusters around massive black holes is a fundamental, decades-old prediction of theoretical stellar dynamics. Yet, observational evidence has been elusive so far. With a new, improved analysis of high-angular resolution images of the central parsecs of the Galactic Center, we are finally able to provide the first solid evidence for the existence of a stellar cusp around the Milky Way's massive black hole. The existence of stellar cusps is not only of theoretical importance, but has a significant impact on predicted event rates of phenomena like tidal disruptions of stars and extreme mass ratio inspiral events, which are expected to be strong sources of gravitational wave emission.