NASA has released a stunning new photo montage of the “center” of our galaxy.
The color scene is a montage of 370 observations made over the past two decades by the Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observer. Billions of stars and countless black holes can be seen in the heart of the Milky Way. Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst reported on the NASA website that he spent a year working on the remarkable panorama while at home due to the pandemic.
“What we are seeing in the picture is an active ecosystem in the middle of our galaxy,” Wang said in an email. There are a lot of supernova remnants, black holes and neutron stars out there. Each point or feature of the x-ray represents an active source, most of it in the center.
Wang’s work appears in the June issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Chandra was launched in 1999, and is in an intense elliptical orbit around the Earth. The satellite is making astronomical observations that are not possible on Earth because X-rays cannot penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. Observations are made from very energy-rich processes in the universe, such as neutron stars, black holes, and supernova remnants. Chandra is a collaboration between NASA and the Dutch Space Research Institute, SRON.
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