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Galactic center X-ray montage by Suzaku
Credit:Koyama et al. / ISAS/JAXA / Suzaku GOF


The Center, Dissected

The Center of the Milky Way is a rather mysterious place. Surrounded by clusters of ancient stars, and swarms of young massive stars, and neutron stars and black holes - both massive and supermassive. How did it get that way? It's a question that still puzzles astronomers. It's hard to get answers since the galactic center is far away from us, and hidden behind enormous quantities of dust. Observations in the X-ray band provide important insight for impatient astronomers into this weird neighborhood; X-rays penetrate the dark dust to reveal the exotic high energy processes. The image above is a montage of X-ray images of the center of the Milky Way by the Suzaku X-ray observatory. The Suzaku images are divided by X-ray energy, showing emission in the 2.45 keV, 3-5 keV, 6.4 keV, and 6.7 keV energy bands (from top to bottom). Each band is chosen to show specific features and interesting physical conditions. For example the bottom two images show (respectively) the effects of X-radiation scattered by cold gas and dust, and emission from iron atoms heated to temperatures so extremely high that the iron atoms have lost nearly all of their 26 electrons.


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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!


Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:25:29 EDT




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