The peculiar population of hot stars at the galactic center

Peter Tamblyn, G. H. Rieke, Margaret Murray Hanson, L. M. Close, D. W. McCarthy, M. J. Rieke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Brγ and He I 2.058 μm images of the Galactic center reveal that most of the Brγ emission is associated with interstellar gas but that the He I is largely concentrated on individual, luminous stars that therefore must be hot. High-resolution spectra of these stars, emphasizing He I 2.058 μm through Brγ 2.166 μm, are compared with spectra of 98 hot, luminous stars from the literature and new spectra of 43 luminous galactic emission-line stars including late nitrogen sequence Wolf-Rayet, luminous blue variable (LBV), Oe, Of, and ON supergiant stars. Combining our data with other observations from the literature, the He I sources in the central parsec include approximately five Ofpe/WN stars and one late-WC star. The inferred luminosity and detection of Mg II emission lines in the spectrum of IRS 16NE make it a likely LBV candidate. However, we find six stars with line widths < 500 km s-1 which defy easy classification, even from the extensive library of comparison spectra we have compiled. Considering the ultraviolet constraints of Serabyn & Lacy and Shields & Ferland and the large number of peculiar hot stars, either we see this stellar population at a very distinctive moment in its evolution, or the conditions of formation or the evolution of the stars must be significantly altered by the environment in the central parsec.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-216
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART I
StatePublished - 1996


  • Galaxy: Center
  • Infrared: Stars
  • Stars: Emission-line, be
  • Stars: Wolf-rayet supergiants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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