Magnetism and a Black Hole

The dusty streamlines in this image highlight the magnetic fields around the Milky Way’s massive black hole. The Y-shaped structure is warm material falling toward the black hole, which is located near the intersection of the the two arms of the Y. The streamlines reveal that the magnetic field closely follows the shape of the dusty structure surrounding the black hole. Each of the blue arms has its own field that is distinct from the rest of the ring which is shown in pink. The dust and magnetic fields are from data taken by SOFIA and have been overlaid on a visible light image from Hubble.
Image Credit: NASA

Zooming in on the Galactic Center

This video sequence zooms from a broad view of the Milky Way into the dusty central region for a much closer look. A 4-million solar mass black hole lurks at the center surrounded by a swarm of rapidly orbiting stars. The animation of the stars’ motion is based on 26 years of data from ESO’s telescopes. One of the stars (S2) passed very close to the black hole in May. The video ends with a simulation of the motions of the stars.

Video Credit: ESO

Looking Toward the Center of the Galaxy

This animation looks toward the center of the Milky Way in three bands of light not visible to the naked eye. The near-infrared image (Hubble) shows the knots of cloud edges and emission that mark the plane of our galaxy. The mid-infrared image (Spitzer) highlights the clouds of gas and dust and star forming regions. The X-ray image (Chandra) tracks the most luminous and powerful stars in the area conspicuously revealing the galactic center region itself, including the million-solar mass black hole at the center. Several other X-ray sources associated with massive star clusters are also visible.

Video Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI

A Massive Star Cluster

hs-1999-30-b-full_jpgThis star cluster lurks less than 100 light-years from the very center of our galaxy. With an equivalent mass greater than 10,000 stars like our Sun, the monster cluster is 10 times larger than a typical young star clusters found in the Milky Way. This cluster is destined to be ripped apart in just a few million years by gravitational tidal forces in the galaxy’s core, but during its brief lifespan, it will shine more brightly than almost every other star cluster in the galaxy.

Image Credit: NASA

Galactic Center

This video opens with a visible light view of a small region close to the center of our galaxy, The Milky Way, and fades into and infrared view of the same part of sky. Lots of stars appear as the effects of the intervening dust are reduced.

Video Credit: ESO / VISTA and Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin