Because of the unique observational challenges -extreme crowding and extinction- any existing large-scale near-infrared (NIR) imaging data on the Galactic Center (GC) are limited by either one, or a combination, of the following: saturation, lack of sensitivity, too low angular resolution, or lack of multi-wavelength coverage. To overcome this situation, we are currently carrying out a sensitive, 0.2'' resolution JHK imaging survey of the Galactic Centre with HAWK-I/VLT. Thanks to holographic imaging, we achieve a similar resolution than with HST/WFC, but can cover also the long NIR, beyond 2 micrometers, which is essential to deal with extinction. Our survey is supported by an ESO Large Programme and will provide photometrically accurate (few percent uncertainty for H < 18 stars), high-angular resolution, NIR data for an area of several 1000 pc2, a more than ten-fold increase compared to the current state of affairs. Here we present an overview and first results.
The Fingerprint of a Galactic Nucleus