NASA’s Flying Telescope View the Center of the Milky Way in Detail

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NASA, flying telescope obtained by SOFIA; It shared a close-up panoramic view showing the center of the Milky Way, the Arches star cluster and a super-mass black hole.

NASA continues to present new images from the depths of space in the new year. The space agency recently exhibited a galaxy located 130 million light-years from Earth with images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and has now released a panoramic infrared image from the center of the Milky Way.

The image obtained by the data collected by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) reveals new details about difficult-to-view areas. The image covers an area of ​​600 light years, and although the galactic center is one of the most photographed areas, this new infrared image emphasizes some details that have never been seen before.

New image showing the center of the Milky Way infrared
At the top of the middle section, the Arches cluster, the densest star cluster known in the galaxy, can be seen more clearly than usual. The super-mass black hole in the middle of the Milky Way can be recognized as a bright white stain thanks to the overheated dust cloud on the right side of the image. “In the new imagery, we observe regions of the most active stars, which are missing from the previous images of the galactic center,” said Matt Hankins, the program’s chief researcher.

These new details come from the unique design of SOFIA. The telescope is mounted on a Boeing 747SP jet aircraft and avoids atmospheric noise encountered by observers on the ground while flying at about 12 kilometers. Infrared allows the device to overcome dust clouds that shade visible telescopes.

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Image of Milky Way with visible light
SOFIA has some advantages over other infrared devices. First, it can make shorter exposures and capture details in bright parts of the sky at longer exposures. In addition, SOFIA is able to receive signals from cold dust as well as hot dust clouds, since it operates infrared at medium wavelengths.

The image was generated by a combination of infrared data received by several telescopes. The red areas were obtained from the Herschel Space Observatory and the white parts from the Spitzer Space Telescope.


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