11 November, 2009
The Milky Way as you've never seen it before: The colourful centre of our galaxy in all its glory By Claire Bates
Unprecedented: A beautiful composite image of the Milky Way centre using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory
Colourful, swirling clouds of cosmic dust interspersed with glowing star clusters are revealed in this extraordinary image of the Milky Way.
The dazzling image combining reds, yellows, blues and purples, was created by layering stunningly detailed pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory on top of each other.
The Milky Way is at the centre of our own galaxy and this image shows its core. The image was created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first demonstration of his telescope.
ARCHED FILAMENTS: These are located 85 light years from the centre of the Milky Way, the Sagittarius A area. The 'filaments' are roughly ten light years long and one wide. One light year is nearly 6 million million miles, the distance light travels in a year.
ARCHES CLUSTER: The densest known star cluster within the Milky Way containing about 1,000 'young' stars
X-RAY BINARY STAR: The glow is created by two stars, hence binary, orbiting a centre of mass
QUINTUPLET CLUSTER: It is a collection of stars which is 4million years old and contains 10,000 times the mass of our Sun
PISTOL STAR: This is the biggest type of star known in the universe and is called a 'blue hyper giant'. Like our Sun it has solar winds but these are 10billion times more powerful. Astronomers believe the Pistol Star will soon undergo a massive stellar explosion known as a supernova. Our solar system was probably created by such an event.
SICKLE: The Sickle is made up of dense dust clouds which are given their shape by radiation and solar winds from 'young' stars
SAGITTARIUS A: This is the centre of the Milky Way. Astronomers believe that it contains a massive black hole, a space with a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape. Evidence for this includes mysterious radio waves emitted from this area.
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