Using data from two telescopes — NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa — researchers just pieced together the most comprehensive picture yet of our galaxy’s center. The image is a composite of 370 observations over the past two decades by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory. The result is a stunning new picture of the Milky Way galaxy’s violent, super-energised ‘downtown’.
This image is an “unprecedented” view of the galactic center, plus the mysterious structures towering above and below it, according to a statement from Chandra researchers.
Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said 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.
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. Launched in 1999, Chandra is a Flagship-class space telescope launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-93 by NASA on July 23, 1999. Chandra is sensitive to X-ray sources 100 times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope, enabled by the high angular resolution of its mirrors.