Astronomy Picture of the Day

X-Rays from the Galactic Core

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X-Rays from the Galactic Core


Using the orbiting
X-ray Observatory, astronomers have taken
this long look at the core of our
Milky Way galaxy, some 26,000 light-years away.

The spectacular false-color view spans about 130 light-years.

It reveals an energetic region
rich in x-ray sources and high-lighted by the
central source, Sagittarius A*, known
to be a supermassive black hole
with 3 million times the
mass of
the Sun

Given its tremendous mass, Sagittarius A* is amazingly faint in x-rays
in comparison to central black holes observed in
distant galaxies,
even during its frequent x-ray flares.

This suggests that this supermassive black hole has been
by a lack of infalling material.

In fact, the sharp Chandra image shows clouds of multi-million
degree gas dozens of light-years across flanking
(upper right and lower left) the
-- evidence that violent events have
cleared much material from
the vicinity of the black hole.

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