The most accurate image of the center of the Milky Way

The most accurate image of the center of the Milky Way

Astronomers using the MeerKAT network of radio telescopes in South Africa have recorded the most accurate image to date of the center of our galaxy. The image shows the area surrounding the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* located 25,000. light years away.

Radio telescope networkóMeerKAT is located in South Africa. This is a total of 64 telescopes. Each has a canopy with a diameter of 13.5 meters. The observatory is located far from human habitation in póhe Karru region and is one of the largest such observatoriów.

The image taken with MeerKAT shows the region surrounding the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* located in the heart of the Milky Way. Sagittarius A* is 25,000 light years away from us.

By traditional methods it is impossible to see the center of the galaxy. In visible light, the view is obscured by clouds of gasóin and dustów. But radio waves penetrate obstacles, allowing a glimpse of the galactic center with a supermassive black hole at its center.

Recorded with a radio telescopeów image is nothing more than a map of the source of theódeles of radio emissions. It shows an area 1,000 by 500 light-years in size. The colors in the image represent the signal strength of the radio waves received by the telescope. Starting with the red, który illustrates the faintest emissions, through the orange and ¿ólty, up to white – he most powerful source ofódna.

– We wanted to show the capabilities of this new instrument – said Fernando Camilo, head of theówny scientist from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO). – The center of the galaxy was an obvious target: unique, visually striking and full of unexplained phenomena, but róalso very difficult to observe with a radio telescopeów – added.

– Although this is the beginning of MeerKAT’s work and there is still much to optimize, we decided to be the first to image the center of the galaxy and were stunned by the results – admitted Camilo.

The image shows molecular clouds, supernova remnants, young stars, and the włókna matter, którich have not been observed anywhere else in the galaxy. They are only near the supermassive black hole. InóThese spots were discovered in the 1980s. last century, but so far it has not been possible to determine what these structures actually are.

The image recorded by MeerKAT is the most accurate image of the galactic center in the radio range. At its center is Sagittarius A* – a supermassive black hole with a mass of four millionóin the Sun. Slightly to the left of the center of the photo, the arched bright spot is a stellar nursery – the Arche cluster. These are thousands of very young and very hot stars.

Further to the left of the young stars are two similarly sized bright sources ofódła – are the molecular clouds Sgr B1 and Sgr B2. Even further to the left, at the very edge of the image, supernova remnants can be seen. These are the spherical structures with the brighter spot in the center.

To the right of the center of the image are molecular clouds. The brightest and largest is Sgr C. These bright lines or cracks are the already-mentionedókna. They are several light years thick and up to 100 light years long. The longest of these structures, visible on the right at the edge of the photo, has been named Snake.

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