Action at the Heart of the Milky Way
The center of the Milky Way galaxy is a busy place. While we can’t see everything that’s there using optical light due to intervening clouds of gas and dust, astronomers do look at it using infrared-enabled telescopes as well as x-ray telescopes. The wavelengths of light they see reveal some interesting details about the stars and masses of gas and dust that lie at the core. Astronomers using radio telescopes are studying the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s heart and have found clouds of hot gas and a gas streamer there. In the not-too-distant future, we’ll see the first “image” of that object, called Sagittarius A*.
Stars at the Galaxy’s Heart
Stars and gas at the heart of the Milky Way, as seen through repeated observations by telescopes at the European Southern Observatory
One of my favorite images of the stars at the Milky Way’s heart was made over a period of 16 years by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. What they wanted to do was track the motions of stars in the region of Sag A*. As they watched the motions of 30 stars near the black ...