With Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra combined, we get a view like no other.
“But I see it differently now. There has to be a middle. Without it, nothing can truly be whole. Because it is not just the space between, but also what holds everything together.” –Sarah Dessen
Although the galactic center is practically invisible in visible light due to the copious amounts of light-blocking dust, the dust grains that are present are of insufficient size to block both much shorter (X-ray) and much longer-wavelength (infrared) light. Thanks to a combination of Hubble’s near-infrared (NICMOS) instrument, the Spitzer Space Telescope (mid-and-far IR) and the Chandra X-ray observatory, a multiwavelength panoramic view of the region surrounding the galactic center has been constructed.
What we find inside is a tumultuous region of dense stars, the gas blown off from recent stellar deaths, the neutral atoms that will collapse to form new stars, and a myriad of intense, high-energy sources that correspond to neutron stars and black holes. Perhaps most spectacularly, there’s a four million solar mass black hole at our galaxy’s center, illuminated uniquely (below) by each of the three great observatories. By combining the data from all of them, we get a unique look at the astrophysical signatures emitted by the closest supermassive black hole to us in the Universe.
Mostly Mute Monday tells the story of a single phenomenon in images, videos, and 200 words, maximum. To celebrate Hubble’s 25th anniversary, the month of April, 2015, will focus exclusively on objects imaged with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Today’s the 78th anniversary of the bombing of Guernica. The only reason you probably don’t know that already is because this isn’t the event’s 75th or 100th anniversary, because we as a society value some numbers over others.