Near- and mid-infrared studies of the galactic center and Sagittarius A*


The focus of this thesis lies on the analysis and interpretation of near- and mid-infrared images of the Galactic center, with a view to improving the understanding of this region, especially at longer wavelengths. Multi-band (H, K, L and M, i.e. 1.6, 2.1, 3.78 and 4.66æm) photometry of images with a large field of view results in a new L-band calibration which eliminates anomalous color effects found in previous surveys of the Galactic center stellar cluster. The color data obtained indicates that the average extinction toward the region containing the Northern Arm and Sgr A* is lower than previously assumed, confirming the findings of Scoville et al. (2003). The stellar population of the inner few arcseconds is compared to that situated up to approximately 0.5 arcminutes out from the position of Sgr A*, revealing that the extinction does not increase significantly over the entire field of view of the ISAAC instrument (i.e. 70" x 70"). Using the large number of sources (over 500), the M-band extinction is calculated from the average L-M colors, resulting in a higher value than that of the "standard" extinction law of Rieke & Lebofsky (1985). The L-M color is shown to be a useful diagnostic tool in distinguishing hot and cool stars, when more precise methods (e.g. spectroscopy) are not available. The unusual morphology of the bright mid-infrared source IRS 3 is also discussed...
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