NASA releases stunning new pic of Milky Way ‘downtown’

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Cape Canaveral, Fla.

NASA has released a stunning new picture of our galaxy’s violent, super-energized “downtown.”

It’s a composite of 370 observations over the past two decades by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, depicting billions of stars and countless black holes in the center, or heart, of the Milky Way. A radio telescope in South Africa also contributed to the image, for contrast.

Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this while stuck at home during the pandemic.

“What we see in the picture is a violent or energetic ecosystem in our galaxy’s downtown,” Wang said in an email. “There are a lot of supernova remnants, black holes, and neutron stars there.

Each X-ray dot or feature represents an energetic source, most of which are in the center.” This busy, high-energy galactic center is 26,000 light years away.

His work appears in the June issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society..—AP

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