Can Stars Form in our Galaxy's Center?
The supermassive black hole lurking at the center of the Milky Way’s brilliant bulge wreaks gravitational havoc on its immediate surroundings. And that doesn’t make life easy for would-be stars: the 4-million-solar-mass behemoth stretches gas clouds into taffy-like streamers before they have the chance to collapse into denser objects. Yet bright and massive stars less than 10 million years old are surprisingly common in the black hole’s neighborhood.
Over the past decade, astronomers have debated how these cosmic youngsters came to be. Did they migrate inward after they formed? Or did a set of unusual circumstances allow the stars to form where they are? Recent observations hinting at early stages of star formation advance the theory that stars regularly form within reach of the supermassive black hole.