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Swarm of compact objects near Sgr A*
Credit: Top: NASA/UMass/D.Wang et al. Bottom Left: NASA/CXC/MIT/F.K.Baganoff et al. Bottom Right: NASA/CXC/UCLA/M.Muno et al.


Compact Swarm

The center of the Milky Way is one of the most interesting regions of the Galaxy, and the closer you look, the more interesting it is. Continued monitoring of the center of the Milky Way by the Chandra X-ray Observatory has recently revealed the presence of a "swarm" of compact objects surrounding the mysterious, suspected supermassive black hole called Sgr A*. These compact objects are probably either neutron stars or black hole and are identified by their dramatic X-ray variability. The picture above shows, at top, a "large-scale" X-ray view of the center of the Galaxy from Chandra, with a zoomed in region bottom left, and an even more detailed view at the bottom right. Four of the bright points of X-ray light in the bottom right image are believed to be compact object binary stars within only 3 lightyears of Sgr A*. It's highly unusual to find so many compact binaries in so small a region of space, giving support to the suggestion that there's a natural migration of compact objects toward the center of the Galaxy.


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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:20:51 EDT