Credit: NASA/CXC/Pontifical Catholic Univ. of Chile /C.Russell et al.
Being Virtually There
The center of the Milky Way Galaxy is a mysterious place, where massive stars are born and die, a place where the immense gravity of an unseen, supermassive black hole some 4 million times more massive than the sun (packed into a space just 17 times the size of the Sun) holds stars and gas in its sway. The center of the Galaxy seethes with hot gas produced by the strong, light-driven winds from the extraordinary number of massive stars located there. These stellar winds collide at speeds of millions of miles per hour, turning kinetic energy into heat, producing hot gas at temperatures of tens of millions of degrees. Some of this gas will fall into the black hole, never to be seen again in our Universe. Now you can view this dangerous place from the safety of your own easy chair, thanks to a new supercomputer model which carefully simulates the location and motion of the stars and gas surrounding the black hole. The image above shows a snapshot of this simulation: hot, X-ray emitting gas at temperatures of tens of millions of degrees is shown in blue; cooler, denser gas at temperatures of tens of thousands of degrees, in red; and even cooler, even higher density gas is shown in yellow. But an even better view of the dynamic nature of this active region can be seen in the new high-definition immersive virtual-reality movie of the Galactic Center. This movie gives you a 3-d view of the flow of gas and stars from the vantage point of the central black hole. This movie simulates the dynamic interactions near the supermassive black hole, for comparison with detailed X-ray observations by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and other high-energy space telescopes, and allows astronomers to reconstruct the violent history of this weird region of space. Grab your goggles and go.
Published: March 25, 2018
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 01-Apr-2019 07:57:56 EDT