Author(s): , , , , , ,
Institution(s): 1. Cornell University, 2. Nanjing University, 3. SOFIA/USRA, 4. UCLA
We present a summary of far-infrared imaging observations of the inner 40 pc of the Galactic center addressing the dense, dusty torus around Sgr A*, massive star formation, and dust production around massive stars and in the Sgr A East supernova remnant. Observations of warm dust emission were performed using the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST). The Circumnuclear Ring (CNR) surrounding and heated by central cluster in the vicinity of Sgr A* shows no internal active star formation but does exhibit significant density “clumps,” a surprising result because tidal shearing should act quickly to smear out structure. G-0.02-0.07, a complex consisting of three compact HII regions and one ultracompact HII region, is site of the most recent confirmed star formation within ~10 pc of the Galactic center. Our observations reveal the dust morphologies and SEDs of the regions to constrain the composition and gas-to-dust mass ratios of the emitting dust and identify heating sources candidates from archival near-IR images. FORCAST observations Luminous Blue Variables (LBVs) located in and near the Quintuplet Cluster reveal the asymmetric, compressed shell of hot dust surrounding the Pistol Star and provide the first detection of the thermal emission from the symmetric, hot dust envelope surrounding G0.120-0.048. These two LBV’s have nebulae with similar quantities of dust (~0.02 M⊙) but exhibit contrasting appearances due to the external influence of their different environments. Finally, the far-infrared observations indicate the presence of ~0.02 M⊙ of warm (~100 K) dust in the hot interior of the ~10,000 yr-old SgrA East supernova remnant indicating the dust has survived the passage of the reverse shock. The results suggest that supernovae may indeed be the dominant dust production mechanism in the dense environment of early Universe galaxies.