Astronomy Picture of the Day

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.

2009 November 11
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Great Observatories Explore Galactic Centre
Credit: NASA, ESA, SSC, CXC, and STScI

Explanation: Where can a telescope take you? Four hundred years ago, a telescope took Galileo to the Moon to discover craters, to Saturn to discover rings, to Jupiter to discover moons, to Venus to discover phases, and to the Sun to discover spots. Today, in celebration of Galileo's telescopic achievements and as part of the International Year of Astronomy, NASA has used its entire fleet of Great Observatories, and the Internet, to bring the centre of our Galaxy to you. Pictured above, in greater detail and in more colours than ever seen before, are the combined images of the Hubble Space Telescope in near-infrared light, the Spitzer Space Telescope in infrared light, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory in X-ray light. A menagerie of vast star fields is visible, along with dense star clusters, long filaments of gas and dust, expanding supernova remnants, and the energetic surroundings of what likely is our Galaxy's central black hole. Many of these features are labeled on a complementary annotated image. Of course, a telescope's magnification and light-gathering ability create only an image of what a human could see if visiting these places. To actually go requires rockets.

Tomorrow's picture: open space

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