Measuring the Properties of the Milky Way's Central Supermassive Black Hole with Stellar Orbits

Nevin Weinberg
UC Berkeley
Astronomy Department


Over the last decade, infrared observations of the Galactic Center have traced the motion of several stars orbiting a common focus, revealing a central dark mass of 4x10^6 solar masses. Coincident with this focus is a very compact radio source, Sgr A*, whose apparent size has been resolved to within a few times the Schwarzschild radius. These observations provide the most definitive evidence for the existence of massive black holes. In this talk, I will review the latest observations and what they tell us about our Galactic center and its black hole. I will also describe experiments achievable in the near future, including the exciting prospect of testing General Relativity in an unexplored regime.