Critical Section


The galactic center

Thursday,  02/02/06  10:38 PM

Today's high-resolution space shot comes from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope: A stunning view of the Milky Way Galaxy's bustling center.  Just click this image for the high-res viewer:

the galactic center

(After clicking, hit F11 to maximize your browser's window.)

"The Milky Way's core is indeed a very busy place.  Stars are packed together like subway riders as they race around the supermassive black hole that lies at the very center.  Our sun is located 26,000 light-years away in a more peaceful, spacious neighborhood, out in the galactic suburbs.  It circles the galaxy about every 225 million years, which amounts to 20 trips over the course of its 4.5-billion-year lifetime.  In contrast, stars at the galactic center complete one lap in only a few million years or less."  Awe-inspiring, isn't it! 

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