Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA



We report new observations of the Galactic Center source G2 from the W. M. Keck Observatory. G2 is a dusty red object associated with gas that shows tidal interactions as it nears its closest approach with the Galaxy's central black hole. Our observations, conducted as G2 passed through periapse, were designed to test the proposal that G2 is a 3 Earth mass gas cloud. Such a cloud should be tidally disrupted during periapse passage. The data were obtained using the Keck II laser guide star adaptive optics system (LGSAO) and the facility near-infrared camera (NIRC2) through the K′ [2.1 μm] and L′ [3.8 μm] broadband filters. Several results emerge from these observations: (1) G2 has survived its closest approach to the black hole as a compact, unresolved source at L′, (2) G2's L′ brightness measurements are consistent with those over the last decade, (3) G2's motion continues to be consistent with a Keplerian model. These results rule out G2 as a pure gas cloud and imply that G2 has a central star. This star has a luminosity of ∼30 L⊙ and is surrounded by a large (∼2.6 AU) optically thick dust shell. The differences between the L′ and Br-γ observations can be understood with a model in which L′ and Br-γ emission arises primarily from internal and external heating, respectively. We suggest that G2 is a binary star merger product and will ultimately appear similar to the B-stars that are tightly clustered around the black hole (the so-called S-star cluster).

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View