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Misaligned streamers around a Galactic Centre black hole from a single cloud's infall

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-365
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013


We follow the near radial infall of a prolate cloud on to a 4 × 106 M⊙ supermassive black hole in the Galactic Centre using smoothed particle hydrodynamics. We show that a prolate cloud oriented perpendicular to its orbital plane naturally produces a spread in angular momenta in the gas which can translate into misaligned discs as is seen in the young stars orbiting Sagittarius A*. A turbulent or otherwise highly structured cloud is necessary to avoid cancelling too much angular momentum through shocks at closest approach. Our standard model of a 2 × 104 M⊙ gas cloud brought about the formation of a disc within 0.3 pc from the black hole and a larger, misaligned streamer at 0.5 pc. A total of 1.5 × 104 M⊙ of gas formed these structures. Our exploration of the simulation parameter space showed that when star formation occurred, it resulted in top-heavy initial mass functions with stars on eccentric orbits with semi-major axes 0.02-0.3 pc and inclinations following the gas discs and streamers. We suggest that the single event of an infalling prolate cloud can explain the occurrence of multiple misaligned discs of young stars.

    Research areas

  • accretion, accretion discs, hydrodynamics, stars: formation, Galaxy: centre

ID: 9114169