This 2004 image was produced by combining a dozen observations from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory made of a 130 light-year region in the center of the Milky Way. The colors represent low (red), medium (green) and high (blue) energy X-rays. Thanks to Chandra’s unique resolving power, astronomers have now been able to identify thousands of point-like X-ray sources due to neutron stars, black holes, white dwarfs, foreground stars, and background galaxies. What remains is a diffuse X-ray glow extending from the upper left to the lower right, along the direction of the disk of the Galaxy.

The spectrum of the diffuse glow is consistent with a hot gas cloud that contains two components – 10-million-degree Celsius gas and 100-million-degree gas. The diffuse X-rays appear to be the brightest part of a ridge of X-ray emission that stretches for several thousand light years along the disk of the Galaxy. The extent of this ridge implies that the diffuse hot gas in this image is probably not being heated by the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, known to astronomers as “Sgr A*”.

Chandra is part of NASA’s fleet of “Great Observatories” along with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Chandra allows scientists from around the world to obtain X-ray images of exotic environments to help understand the structure and evolution of the universe.

Image Credit: NASA/CXC/UCLA/MIT/M.Muno et al.


弥漫光辉的光谱与热气云相一致,它包含两个组成部分——1000万摄氏度的气体和1亿摄氏度的气体。弥漫性X射线似乎是X射线发射山脊中最亮的部分,它沿着银河系的盘面延伸了几千光年。这条山脊的范围意味着这张图片中的弥漫性热气体可能没有被银河系中心的超大质量黑洞(天文学家称之为Sgr A*)所加热。


影像来源:NASA/CXC/UCLA/MIT/M.Muno et al.

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