Some 30,000 light-years away near the chaotic, gaseous region near our galactic center, a team of Japanese researchers has found the strange cosmic feature you see above: a helical molecular cloud twisting across some 60 light years.
The European Southern Observatory’s VISTA survey telescope has turned its eyes inward to the center of our galaxy, and for the first time has looked straight through it. VISTA’s latest batch of infrared images have discovered two new globular clusters here in the Milky Way that had never been seen before, but more importantly they are the first star clusters that we’ve been able to image beyond the dusty and gaseous core of our galaxy.
Behold, your galactic center. This Hubble image, captured with the space telescope’s Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), is the highest-resolution pic of the Milky Way’s galactic center taken to date, taking in a newly discovered group of massive stars, lots of super-hot gas, and roughly 35,000 square light years of space in one sweeping mosaic.
The center of the Milky Way is hard to see in visible light, because interstellar dust blocks our view. But the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared vision can penetrate the dust and see through to our galaxy’s jam-packed core.
This is a newly updated version of the plane of the Milky Way captured by the Spitzer telescope. NASA says the area shown here is immense: Horizontally, it spans 2,400 light years, or 5.3 degrees of the sky, and vertically it covers 1,360 light years, or 3 degrees.
Spitzer's Milky Way Panorama:I can almost see my ... wait, never mind NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Wisconsin
Size doesn't always matter when it comes to NASA's pretty pictures, but it may certainly make an impression upon visitors at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. The planetarium has revealed a gigantic Milky Way panorama that stretches 120 feet long and 3 feet wide at the sides. The center of the picture bulges out to 6 feet wide to accommodate the center of the galaxy.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.