Diffuse X-ray emission from the Galactic Center
Credit: M. P. Muno et al., 2004, The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 613, pg. 326

How Much is Too Much?

What's left over after all the lights are out? That's a question astronomers tried to answer recently. The image above is a Chandra X-ray Observatory picture of the center of the Milky Way, after all the obvious discrete sources of radiation have been removed. What's left over is a combination of very hot and extremely hot gas, and a major puzzle. The hot gas is probably produced by a modest rate of supernova explosions near the center of the Galaxy. But the origin of the extremely hot gas is a mystery. It might have been produced by supernova explosions too, but it would require an especially high rate of supernova, about one every 30 centuries. It could be produced by a population of faint, high-energy stars, but any such objects would have to be a factor of 10 times more numerous than the most numerous known high-energy sources.

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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