Clusters in X-rays and IR
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Northwestern U./C.Law & F.Yusef-Zadeh; Infrared: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF

Invisible Cluster Revealed; Interlopers Identified

The Galactic Center is a very interesting place. But it's difficult to study due to its great distance (about 25,000 lightyears) and because there's a lot of dust in the way which obscures things, and because it's hard to distinguish things at the Galactic Center from foreground objects. The Galactic center is thought to be home to some very massive star clusters. One such cluster, DB01-42, is shown in the upper image. Because of the large amount of dust hiding this cluster, it's invisible to optical telescopes. The cluster can be seen in infrared light, since dust can't block the IR. It can also be seen in X-rays since X-rays can penetrate through the dust. In the image above, X-ray emission (as seen by the Chandra X-ray Observatory) is shown in blue, while IR emission (from the Two Micron All Sky Survey) is shown in green. X-rays from the two bright stars may be produced by the collision of strong stellar winds. The lower images show two other clusters, DB00-58 and DB00-6, that were suspected to lie near the Galactic center, but X-ray observations suggest that they are instead foreground objects much closer to earth.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:27:16 EDT