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Milky Way's 'turbulent heart' unveiled to mark Intl Yr of Astronomy


The new image of Milky Way galaxy. Image Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (BNS): In commemoration of International Year of Astronomy, NASA has unveiled a stunning new image of the turbulent heart of our home galaxy – Milky Way.

The images of the galactic centre region, captured by the space agency’s three Great Observatories – Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory – have been assembled together to make composite image which provides one of the most detailed views ever of our galaxy's mysterious core.

The giant 6-foot-by-3-foot print composite image, released on Tuesday, features the spectacle of stellar evolution – from vibrant regions of star birth, to young hot stars, to old cool stars, to seething remnants of stellar death called black holes.

This activity occurs against a fiery backdrop in the crowded, hostile environment of the galaxy's core, the centre of which is dominated by a supermassive black hole nearly four million times more massive than our Sun.

Permeating the region is a diffuse blue haze of X-ray light from gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by outflows from supermassive black hole as well as by winds from massive stars and stellar explosions. Infrared light reveals more than a hundred thousand stars along with glowing dust clouds that create complex structures including compact globules, long filaments, and finger-like “pillars of creation,” where newborn stars are just beginning to break out of their dark, dusty cocoons.

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