A dramatic new vista of the center of the Milky Way galaxy from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory exposes new levels of the complexity and intrigue in the Galactic center. The mosaic of 88 Chandra pointings represents a freeze-frame of the spectacle of stellar evolution, from bright young stars to black holes, in a crowded, hostile environment dominated by a central, supermassive black hole.
The diffuse X-ray light is from gas that has been heated by stellar explosions, outflows powered by the central supermassive black hole and winds from massive stars.
The thousands of point sources are produced by normal stars feeding material onto compact, stellar remnants: black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs.
Credit: NASA/CXC/UMass/D. Wang et al.