NASA has blended three views of our home galaxy’s turbulent core to produce a picture filled with scientifically significant snap, crackle and pop. And the deeper you go into the image, the more you learn.
The composite picture of the Milky Way’s center draws upon near-infrared data from the Hubble Space Telescope (shown in yellow), infrared readings from the Spitzer Space Telescope (shown in rich red) and the X-ray vision of the Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown in shades of blue and violet)
The result is an amazingly detailed, and amazingly colorful, multiwavelength view of our galaxy’s core, 26,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. Among the highlights are Sagittarius A*, the bright knot of material that surrounds the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, and the “light echo” left behind by black hole blasts that faded away long ago.
“That’s one interesting thing to see – this time history of a supermassive black hole that’s closer to us than any other,” said Chandra press scientist Peter Edmonds. X-ray imagery from the past several years chart how the light echo has changed.
Another bright bluish spot, toward the left side of the picture, marks the location of a mysterious X-ray source known as 1E 1743.1-2843. The emissions might signal the presence of a black hole or a neutron star that is sucking in material from an unseen companion, but astronomers aren’t sure.
The whole region is aglow with a blue haze that represents diffuse X-ray emissions from gas that has been heated to millions of degrees. The heat comes from violent storms of energy that are being whipped up by the central black hole as well as the birth and death of massive stars. Check out Chandra’s multicolored X-ray view of the galactic center for even more detail. …
via Triple delight in the Milky Way – Cosmic Log – msnbc.com.