The star formation history of the milky way's nuclear star cluster

O. Pfuhl*, T. K. Fritz, M. Zilka, H. Maness, F. Eisenhauer, R. Genzel, S. Gillessen, T. Ott, K. Dodds-Eden, A. Sternberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present spatially resolved imaging and integral field spectroscopy data for 450 cool giant stars within 1pc from SgrA*. We use the prominent CO bandheads to derive effective temperatures of individual giants. Additionally we present the deepest spectroscopic observation of the Galactic center (GC) so far, probing the number of B9/A0 main-sequence stars (2.2-2.8 M ) in two deep fields. From spectrophotometry we construct a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of the red giant population and fit the observed diagram with model populations to derive the star formation history of the nuclear cluster. We find (1) that the average nuclear star formation rate dropped from an initial maximum ∼10Gyr ago to a deep minimum 1-2Gyr ago and increased again during the last few hundred Myrs, (2) that roughly 80% of the stellar mass formed more than 5Gyr ago, and (3) that mass estimates within R ∼ 1 pc from SgrA* favor a dominant star formation mode with a "normal" Chabrier/Kroupa initial mass function for the majority of the past star formation in the GC. The bulk stellar mass seems to have formed under conditions significantly different from the young stellar disks, perhaps because at the time of the formation of the nuclear cluster the massive black hole and its sphere of influence were much smaller than today.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2011


  • Galaxy: center
  • Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams
  • galaxies: star formation
  • stars: late-type
  • stars: luminosity function, mass function


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