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 for Hubble image: 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)
Credit: NASA, ESA, and Q.D. Wang (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
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.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) and is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Md. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) conducts Hubble science operations. The institute is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., Washington, D.C.
STScI is an International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009) program partner.
Ray Villard | Newswise Science News
SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University
Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences