Centre of the Milky Way

Centre of the Milky Way

 

In visible light our view of the centre of the Milky Way is obscured by dust clouds. By using infrared light we can look through much of this dust to see the crowded space toward the middle of our galaxy. This view, made using the 4.1 metre VISTA telescope in Chile, contains around one million stars and spans about two degrees of the sky - four times the width of the full Moon. The exposure time was 80 seconds in three infrared wavebands, Y band (1.02 microns, blue), J band (1.25 microns, green) and Ks band (2.17 microns, red). As well as obscuring the visible light view, the dust scatters blue light, so the middle of this image has a distinct reddish tone. The centre of the Milky Way lies about 25,000 light years from earth in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

Image © European Southern Observatory/VISTA and the Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

 

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