Nasa has released a stunning new picture of our galaxy’s violent, super-energized “downtown”.
The image, a composite of 370 observations made over the past two decades by the orbiting Chandra X-ray observatory, depicts billions of stars and countless black holes in the center of the Milky Way.
Launched in 1999, Chandra is in an extreme oval orbit. A radio telescope in South Africa also contributed to the image, for contrast.
Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said he spent a year working on the picture while stuck at home during the coronvirus pandemic.
“What we see in the picture is a violent or energetic ecosystem in our galaxy’s downtown,” Wang said. “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.”
The busy, high-energy galactic center of the Milky Way is 26,000 light years away from Earth.
Wang’s work appears in the June issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.