Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2002 October 25
Explanation: In Jules Verne's science fiction classic A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Professor Hardwigg and his fellow explorers encounter many strange and exciting wonders. What wonders lie at the centre of our Galaxy? Astronomers know of some of the bizarre objects which exist there, like vast cosmic dust clouds, bright star clusters, swirling rings of gas, and even a supermassive black hole. Much of the Galactic Centre is shielded from our view in visible light by the intervening dust and gas, but it can be explored using other forms of electromagnetic radiation. This haunting wide angle image of the Galactic Centre region in infrared light was constructed using data from the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite. The image maps three mid-infrared bands, otherwise invisible to human eyes, into visible blue, green, and red colours revealing the thermal emission from dust clouds near the galactic centre that have been heated by starlight. The galactic plane runs along the middle of this image while the galactic centre itself is the bright spot at picture centre. The field of view of this cropped picture is about 1.5 by 2.5 degrees.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& NASA SEU Edu. Forum
& Michigan Tech. U.