NASA releases stunning new image of Milky Way’s ‘downtown’

Cape Canaveral: NASA has released a stunning new picture of our galaxy’s violent, super-energised “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 centre, or heart, of the Milky Way. A radio telescope in South Africa also contributed to the image, for contrast.

This false-colour X-ray and radio frequency image shows threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields at the centre of the Milky Way.Credit:NASA

Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said he spent a year working on the project 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.

“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 centre.”

This busy, high-energy galactic centre 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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