Superb new picture from NASA’s Chandra Observatory reveals colourful threads of Milky Approach

An incredible new view of the Milky Approach supplied by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals the threads of superheated gasoline and magnetic fields that weave the cosmic tapestry collectively.

The panoramic X-ray view of the galactic heart strings collectively 370 separate pointings of the orbiting telescope, constructing on earlier Chandra observations over the previous 20 years.


The MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa additionally contributed to what Chandra describes as a multi-colored mosaic of knowledge.

The composite depicts billions of stars and numerous black holes within the heart, or coronary heart, of the Milky Approach – 26,000 light-years away.

Massachusetts’ Chandra X-ray observatory’s view of the Milky Approach’s Galactic Heart.
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang; Radio: NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT)

Orange, inexperienced and purple X-rays are mixed with grey radio knowledge from MeerKAT, and the brand new model expands Chandra’s high-energy view “farther above and beneath the airplane of the Galaxy — that’s, the disk the place a lot of the Galaxy’s stars reside — than earlier imaging campaigns.”

In a launch accompanying the picture, Chandra highlighted the significances of a “significantly intriguing” thread proven in the direction of the underside that has X-ray and radio emission intertwined and “factors perpendicular to the airplane of the galaxy and is about 20 mild years lengthy however solely one-hundredth that dimension in width.”

Upon additional examination by the College of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Daniel Wang, the properties of the X-rays and radio emissions reportedly counsel the options are “certain by skinny strips of magnetic fields” in a course of referred to as magnetic reconnection.

Chandra defined that the method is just like the phenomenon that drives energetic particles away from the solar, impacting house climate and riven by supernova explosions, outbursts of matter and close-quartered stars expelling sizzling gasoline. 

“What we see within the image is a violent or energetic ecosystem in our galaxy’s downtown,” Wang mentioned in an electronic mail. “There are plenty of supernova remnants, black holes, and neutron stars there. Every X-ray dot or characteristic represents an brisk supply, most of that are within the heart,” Wang mentioned in an electronic mail on Friday.

Wang’s work – set to be revealed within the June subject of the Month-to-month Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society – exhibits massive plumes of sizzling gasoline possible heated by supernova explosions and up to date magnetic reconnections that reach for round 700 light-years above and beneath the airplane of the galaxy.


Whereas the observatory notes that reconnection occasions are “usually not sufficiently energetic to be detected in X-rays” and that these occasions might play a significant function in heating gasoline between stars, accelerating particles to provide cosmic rays and serving to to set off star start.

“The picture exhibits that the magnetic threads are inclined to happen on the outer boundaries of the massive plumes of sizzling gasoline. This means that the gasoline within the plumes is driving magnetic fields that collide to create the threads,” the discharge mentioned. 

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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