Presentation #210.01 in the session Galactic Ecosystems: Galaxy Structure and Evolution.
This talk reviews some of the most important advances SOFIA has made to our understanding of our Galactic center. Instruments on SOFIA probed the mid- and far-infrared in continuum, spectral lines, and polarization, tracing energy deposition, physical conditions, and magnetic fields across the region. These have provided a vastly improved view of the 200 pc-wide Circum-Nuclear Zone (CMZ) containing material that orbits the nuclear core, and also of material close to the Galaxy’s 4 million solar mass black hole. SOFIA observations have provided information crucial to understanding key interactions within this complex region. Deep at the bottom of the Galaxy’s potential well, the Galactic center is home to extremes in stellar density, stellar properties, and energy density. Collisions and orbital shear regulate star formation in massive molecular clouds like nowhere else in the Galaxy. SOFIA studies tell us not only about processes and structures in our own Galaxy, but provide a level of detail unachievable in any other galaxy to help us understand galactic nuclei everywhere in the universe.