The center of our Milky Way galaxy is a cosmic web of hot gases and magnetic fields, centered on a supermassive black hole.
The US space agency has published a special panorama of our galactic center. The center of the Milky Way is 26,000 light years from Earth. The cosmic masterpiece was created by combining data from South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The mosaic is the result of 370 Chandra observations from 1999 to 2019. A total of 1,555 hours and 26 minutes of observations, which represents more than 64 days.
Sagittarius A *
Sagittarius A * can be seen exactly in the center of the photo. It is a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. This black hole has been very active lately and its brightness varies regularly. This is because the material falls into the black hole. “Before the material completely disappears, it first heats up and begins to radiate,” says astrophysicist Rudy Wijnands. Scientias.nl. “The amount of radiation we see is directly related to the amount of material falling into the black hole. So, as the black hole becomes brighter, more material falls into the black hole. “
A super hot gas wire
The photo shows a remarkably long wire of super hot gas, namely G0.17-0.41. This wire is twenty light years long, but only 1 / 100th of a light year wide. Such a wire is created by the collision of magnetic fields. When magnetic fields collide, they become entangled and these very hot gas threads are formed. Astronomers suspect that these colliding magnetic fields could heat the gas between the stars – the so-called interstellar medium. This turbulence can eventually create new stars.
Clusters, stars and sources of X-rays
Near the center, the Quintuplet cluster can be seen. This cluster is only four million years old and contains many massive young stars. Within this cluster is the Pistol Star, one of the brightest stars in the Milky Way. We also see several other clusters, such as Arches clusters, many stars (small dots), and x-ray light sources (green circles).
Chandra: almost as legendary as Hubble
The Chandra X-ray Observatory has been floating in space for over twenty years now. During this period, the observatory made many special discoveries. For example, Chandra photographed a jet from the black hole Sagittarius A *. It is a cosmic fountain of high energy particles. Chandra photographed the current coming from Sagittarius A. It turns out that the jet collided with gas nearby. During the collision, X-rays and radio waves are produced, what was observed by Chandra.
Chandra has also made a beautiful mosaic of the center of the Milky Way before. The photo below is actually 400 by 900 light years. Hundreds of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and stellar black holes revolve around the black hole in the center of the Milky Way.