Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hubble Views Galactic Core In Unprecedented New Detail

Date:
January 7, 2009
Source:
Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)
Summary:
A new color infrared image of the center of our Milky Way galaxy reveals a new population of massive stars and new details in complex structures in the hot ionized gas swirling around the central 300 light-years. This sweeping panorama is the sharpest infrared picture ever made of the Galactic core. It offers a nearby laboratory for how massive stars form and influence their environment in the often violent nuclear regions of other galaxies.

This composite color infrared image of the center of our Milky Way galaxy reveals a new population of massive stars and new details in complex structures in the hot ionized gas swirling around the central 300 light-years. This sweeping panorama is the sharpest infrared picture ever made of the Galactic core. It offers a nearby laboratory for how massive stars form and influence their environment in the often violent nuclear regions of other galaxies.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and Q.D. Wang (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) Credit for Spitzer image: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and S. Stolovy (Spitzer Science Center/Caltech)

This composite color infrared image of the center of our Milky Way galaxy reveals a new population of massive stars and new details in complex structures in the hot ionized gas swirling around the central 300 light-years. This sweeping panorama is the sharpest infrared picture ever made of the Galactic core. It offers a nearby laboratory for how massive stars form and influence their environment in the often violent nuclear regions of other galaxies.

This view combines the sharp imaging of the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) with color imagery from a previous Spitzer Space Telescope survey done with its Infrared Astronomy Camera (IRAC). The Galactic core is obscured in visible light by intervening dust clouds, but infrared light penetrates the dust.

The spatial resolution of NICMOS corresponds to 0.025 light-years at the distance of the Galactic core of 26,000 light-years. Hubble reveals details in objects as small as 20 times the size of our own solar system.

The NICMOS mosaic image represents the largest piece of sky ever mapped for one NICMOS observing program. It was combined with a full-color Spitzer image to yield a color composite of the nuclear region. The picture measures 300 x 115 light-years. Outside the boundary of the NICMOS survey, the IRAC exposures (which are 1/10th as sharp) can be seen at wavelengths of 3.6 microns (shown as blue), 4.5 microns (shown as green), 5.8 microns (shown as orange), and 8.0 microns (shown as red).

The new NICMOS data show the glow from ionized hydrogen gas as well as a multitude of stars. Hubble reveals an important population of stars with strong stellar winds, signified by excess emission from ionized gas at one infrared wavelength (1.87 microns) compared to another slightly different wavelength (1.90 microns).

NICMOS shows a large number of these massive stars distributed throughout the region. A new finding is that astronomers now see that the massive stars are not confined to one of the three known clusters of massive stars in the Galactic Center, known as the Central cluster, the Arches cluster, and the Quintuplet cluster. These three clusters are easily seen as tight concentrations of bright, massive stars in the NICMOS image. The distributed stars may have formed in isolation, or they may have originated in clusters that have been disrupted by strong gravitational tidal forces.

The winds and radiation from these stars form the complex structures seen in the core, and in some cases, they may be triggering new generations of stars. At upper left, large arcs of ionized gas are resolved into arrays of intriguingly organized linear filaments indicating perhaps a critical role of the influence of locally strong magnetic fields.

The lower left region shows pillars of gas sculpted by winds from hot massive stars in the Quintuplet cluster. At the center of the image, ionized gas surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy is confined to a bright spiral embedded within a circum-nuclear dusty inner-tube-shaped torus.

The NICMOS mosaic required 144 Hubble orbits to make 2,304 science exposures. It was taken between February 22 and June 5, 2008.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). "Hubble Views Galactic Core In Unprecedented New Detail." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090106135601.htm>.
Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). (2009, January 7). Hubble Views Galactic Core In Unprecedented New Detail. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090106135601.htm
Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). "Hubble Views Galactic Core In Unprecedented New Detail." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090106135601.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins