Released on Monday: the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, as you’ve never seen it before (via NASA.) At bottom is a crop I made, showing more detail. This image release is part of Chandra’s 10th anniversary celebration.
A dramatic new vista of the center of the Milky Way galaxy from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory exposes new levels of the complexity and intrigue in the Galactic center. The mosaic of 88 Chandra pointings represents a freeze-frame of the spectacle of stellar evolution, from bright young stars to black holes, in a crowded, hostile environment dominated by a central, supermassive black hole.
Permeating the region is a diffuse haze of X-ray light from gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by winds from massive young stars — which appear to form more frequently here than elsewhere in the Galaxy — explosions of dying stars, and outflows powered by the supermassive black hole — known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). Data from Chandra and other X-ray telescopes suggest that giant X-ray flares from this black hole occurred about 50 and about 300 years earlier.