Galactic Center Panorama in X-ray and Radio

This vertical panoramic image depicts an area about the center of the Milky Way, with the field of view extending 1000 light years above and below the galaxy. The image resembles colorful gas clouds streaked with fine threads, dotted with a handful of brilliant white shapes. Throughout the image are tiny orange and purple dots set against a black backdrop. Across the center of the image is a horizontal, bright purple cloud with a glowing white core. This is the plane of the Milky Way, the disk where most of the Galaxy's stars reside. Below the plane of the Milky Way, near our lower left, is a bright, brick orange cloud. Above the plane, to our upper right, is a thin lilac cloud with some orange mist on the left. The orange cloud and mist are large plumes of hot gas. The colors represent different X-ray energies observed by Chandra. Even brighter than the glowing white core in the Milky Way are the brilliant white shapes that appear throughout the image. Two can be found to the right of the core, and two below the galaxy's plane. These are X-rays reflected from dust around bright X-ray sources.
CreditX-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang; Radio: NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT
Historical DateMay 27, 2021
Language
  • english

This panorama provides an unprecedented X-ray view above and below the center of the Milky Way. This new survey builds on previous NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory observations, stitching together 370 separate pointings of the telescope. In this main image, different bands of X-rays from Chandra (orange, green, purple) have been combined with radio data (gray). These data reveal threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields near the center of the Milky Way.