CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has released a stunning new picture of our galaxy’s violent, super-energized “downtown.”
It’s a composite of 370 observations over the past two decades by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, depicting billions of stars and countless black holes in the center, or heart, of the Milky Way. A radio telescope in South Africa also contributed to the image for contrast.
Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this while stuck at home during the pandemic.
“What we see in the picture is a violent or energetic ecosystem in our galaxy’s downtown,” Wang said in an email. “There are a lot of supernova remnants, black holes, and neutron stars there. Each X-ray dot or feature represents an energetic source, most of which are in the center.”
This busy, high-energy galactic center is 26,000 light-years away.
His work appears in the June issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Launched in 1999, Chandra is in an extreme oval orbit around Earth.
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