Near-infrared variability study of the central 2.3 arcmin × 2.3 arcmin of the Galactic Centre – I. Catalogue of variable sources

Dong, Hui; Schödel, Rainer; Williams, Benjamin F.; Nogueras-Lara, Francisco; Gallego-Cano, Eulalia; Gallego-Calvente, Teresa; Wang, Q. Daniel; Morris, Mark R.; Do, Tuan; Ghez, Andrea

September, 2017

We used four-year baseline HST/WFC3 IR observations of the Galactic Centre in the F153M band (1.53 micron) to identify variable stars in the central ~2.3'x2.3' field. We classified 3845 long-term (periods from months to years) and 76 short-term (periods of a few days or less) variables among a total sample of 33070 stars. For 36 of the latter ones, we also derived their periods (<3 days). Our catalog not only confirms bright long period variables and massive eclipsing binaries identified in previous works, but also contains many newly recognized dim variable stars. For example, we found \delta Scuti and RR Lyrae stars towards the Galactic Centre for the first time, as well as one BL Her star (period < 1.3 d). We cross-correlated our catalog with previous spectroscopic studies and found that 319 variables have well-defined stellar types, such as Wolf-Rayet, OB main sequence, supergiants and asymptotic giant branch stars. We used colours and magnitudes to infer the probable variable types for those stars without accurately measured periods or spectroscopic information. We conclude that the majority of unclassified variables could potentially be eclipsing/ellipsoidal binaries and Type II Cepheids. Our source catalog will be valuable for future studies aimed at constraining the distance, star formation history and massive binary fraction of the Milky Way nuclear star cluster.