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Unstrange Phenomena

07 July 2009

Astronomy: Photo of Our Galactic Center!

From Denny: A very cool photo from the folks over at ESO.org (European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere). Taken during the ATLASGAL survey this is really a color composite image of the Galactic Center and Sagittarius B2. The center of our Milky Way Galaxy is home to a supermassive black hole. That's a bit scary! How big is it? (This is starting to sound like a fish story...) That huge black hole is four million times the mass of our very own Sun! This galactic center is only 25,000 light years from our planet Earth.

X-ray Mosaic of Galactic Center: Chandra Takes...X-ray mosaic of Galactic Center: Chandra takes in the bright lights, big city of the Milky Way - Image by Smithsonian Institution via Flickr

OK, you ask, so who is this Sagitarrius B2 guy? It's one of the largest clouds of molecular gas in our Milky Way. Definitely one of the big guys on the block. According to the ESO, this Sagitarrius B2 is "rich in many different interstellar molecules" because it lies close to the Galactic Center. Sort of sounds like vitamins for the Universe, doesn't it? :)

Now who's who on this photo?

- the ATLASGAL submillimetre-wavelength data are shown in red, overlaid on a view of the region in infrared light

- from the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) in green and blue.

- Sagittarius B2 is the bright orange-red region to the middle left of the image, which is centered on the Galactic Center.

Galactic Center Milky Way Galaxy supermassive black hole Midcourse Space Experiment Sagittarius B2 ESO.org European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere Earth Sun infrared light black hole astronomy

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