Hubble, Spitzer Collaborate for Stunning Panorama of Galactic Center

by Nancy Atkinson on January 5, 2009

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Galactic center in unprecedented detail.Credit for Hubble image: NASA, ESA, and Q.D. Wang (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Galactic center in unprecedented detail.Credit for Hubble image: NASA, ESA, and Q.D. Wang (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Two of the biggest space telescopes have combined forces to create a HUGE panorama of the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This sweeping, composite color panorama is the sharpest infrared picture ever made of the Galactic core. Revealed in the image are a new population of massive stars and new details of complex structures in the hot gas and dust swirling around, created by solar winds and supernova explosions. The image shows an area about 300 light-years across. Click here for options in seeing this image in small, medium or super-sized extra large resolution! Click here for a stunning movie showing the location and more detail of this image in visible light. Astronomers at the American Astronomical Society meeting pointed out the actual galactic center is in the large white region near the lower right side of the image. If you need something to keep you occupied for awhile, try counting the number of stars in this image!

More about this image…

This image provides insight into 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 images were taken between February 22 and June 5, 2008.

Source: HubbleSite

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Assi January 5, 2009 at 3:12 PM

Wow, this is such a beautiful picture :D!

Gh. January 5, 2009 at 3:16 PM

I’m really stunned… The pure beauty of our world.

Salacious B. Crumb January 5, 2009 at 10:46 PM

Silver Thread
Strongly recommend you read the American Astronomical Society own site and read the “Authors Guide” .

Here it is stated under “Style’;
“Use standard abbreviations for SI (e.g., m, km, mm) and natural units (e.g., AU, pc, cm). If English units such as inches or pounds per square inch are used, metric equivalents should follow in parentheses.”
As to your irrelevant “socialism” brain snap, well the imperial system in science and generally is actually in the significantly small minority. The United States is only one officially resisting the metric system, along with Liberia and Myanmar. Even your scientists (and astronomers) have already seen the light, like the AAS. Sadly, your argument here of isolationism is no longer a practical policy.
Also if you must use imperial measures, the why not give both?

Oh, and finally, the Americanised spelling of “Kilometers” is wrong. It is spelt ‘kilometres”? (How arrogant is this? You claim your readers are being dictated too, yet when even the system you don’t claim to use is presented, you try and impose the Americanised spelling. on the rest of us. Socialism you reckon?)

Astrofiend January 5, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Very nice. Cool video!

Sci-Fi Si January 5, 2009 at 5:17 PM

This is awesome! I mean really astounding!

AAAAAAhhhh! (takes a deep breath in) Now THIS is Astronomy.

Timber January 5, 2009 at 5:41 PM

Mind boggeling

Salacious B. Crumb January 5, 2009 at 7:46 PM

Please, please use IAU standard units. I.e.

“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.”

This should read;

“The spatial resolution of NICMOS corresponds to 0.0075 parsecs (16,000 A.U. [if you must]) at the distance of the galactic core of 8 kpc (kiloparsecs). Hubble reveals details in objects as small as 20 times the size of our own solar system”

Silver Thread January 5, 2009 at 8:31 PM

Of course they would want to post this in Kilometers since I will guess at least a slight majority of the readers still use the Imperial Measurement System. It makes perfect sense that a Minority view should dictate for the Majority right? I mean that *is* how socialism seems to work.

Feenixx January 6, 2009 at 4:22 AM

Salacious B. Crumb… those Author Guidelines are for scholarly articles to be submitted for publication in peer reviewed journals.
Nancy Atkinson writes entertaining articles for a popular Web site.

“Kilometer” is not a wrong Americanised (Americanized) spelling of “kilometre” – it is American English (aka AmE, AE, or en-US) for “kilometre”.
I live in Ireland. I could go to the local College of Commerce and take a course in American English. There doesn’t seem to be much point, though. I’ve had no problems, so far, understanding any American English I came across…. ;)

What a beautiful image, thanks for the link to the original. I downloaded both, the largest JPEG and the largest animation. This is great – the magic of IR photography, letting me peep into the “mysterious Dark Rift”…

Salacious B. Crumb January 6, 2009 at 4:42 AM

Feenixx said ,
“Kilometer” is not a wrong Americanised (Americanized) spelling of “kilometre” – it is American English (aka AmE, AE, or en-US) for “kilometre”.

Right… now I get it…. Americans don’t want to adopt the metric system, so therefore they want to tell us how to spell it.
Simple logic still astounds me.
Praise God for the Atlantic and wider Pacific Ocean!

alphonso January 6, 2009 at 5:18 AM

Love the picture. The movie is almost as stunning.

Timber January 6, 2009 at 9:29 AM

Salacious B. Crumb,

I cannot see any suggestion that anyone is trying to tell you how to spell.

You seem to have a huge animosity towards those of us in the USA and any of our materiel, so if you don’t like the TV program, turn off the TV (or should I say Telly).

Your Socialist ranting is one of the reasons we left your country, and attitudes, some 300 years ago, we don’t want anypart of it now.

It was probably a huge mistake on our part to get involved with your problems in the early 1900′s and the 1940′s, we should have let you solve them on your own. Let’s pray we don’t get involved again.

Salacious B. Crumb January 6, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Timber,
Thanks for the grand enlightenment on my presumed socialist country – under that great misnomer that if you are not in the American democracy, or you disagree on some point or two, then you must be either a subversive socialist or pinko communist.

IMO your country has and continues to have much to offer the world – especially in the science. Actually for the U.S.A., except for some minor quirks and eccentricities here and there, and perhaps sometimes too over the top patriotism and hype or insular views of the rest of the world – but overall Americans are fair and decent people. The ones I’ve so far meet seem just like me.
So no, your assumption is wrong. I don’t think I have really have any real animosity to the U.S. at all.
Anyway, I’m so sorry to disappoint you, I don’t live in the British Isles, England or Europe, but at least now we know about your true xenophobic fears are aim towards.
As the English sometimes say; Cheers my good man….. and thanks for your perspective.

Marco January 6, 2009 at 7:07 PM

Wow. Stunning images. I can remember when we ever wondered if we could see the Galactic Center.

BTW, what are those resolutions in ALACU’s (astronomical Los Angles County units)? Couldn’t resist the urge to stir up trouble. Maybe they should also be presented in Londons or milli-Australias.

elfofgod January 6, 2009 at 7:41 PM

Parsecs…. most of us zoom to wkipedia or ignore the benign measurement.

Lightyears, that’s more like it.

Phenomenal Photo!

Will January 7, 2009 at 7:50 PM

Forgive my ignorance but, shouldn’t the absence of light (even IR) be a black spot/”hole” and not the white blotch that the article claims to be the galactic center. In other words, where’s the black hole/horizon?
There does seem to be a “dark” hole, although not round, with a scattering of what looks to be foreground stars sitting off to the left of the hi-res JPEG image. Or is this part of the complex of gas and dust structures? But then, Spitzer is supposed to see through the dust.

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