The centre of the Milky Way

The centre of our Milky Way galaxy is located in the southern constellation Sagittarius (The Archer) and is "only" 26,000 light-years away. On high-resolution images, it is possible to discern thousands of individual stars within the central, one light-year wide region.

Using the motions of these stars to probe the gravitational field, observations over the last decade have shown that a mass of about 3 million times that of the Sun is concentrated within a radius of only 10 light-days of the compact radio and X-ray source SgrA* (Sagittarius A) at the centre of the star cluster. This means that SgrA* is the most likely counterpart of the black hole believed to exist at the centre of our Galaxy.

This image was obtained in mid-2002 with the NACO instrument at the 8.2-m VLT Yepun telescope. It combines frames in three infrared wavebands between 1.6 and 3.5 µm. The compact objects are stars and their colours indicate their temperature (blue ="hot", red ="cool"). There is also diffuse infrared emission from interstellar dust between the stars. 

A newer image of that region has been published in 2008; see image eso0846a.

Credit:

ESO

About the Image

Id:eso0226a
Type:Observation
Release date:16 October 2002
Related releases:eso0226
Size:2598 x 2362 px

About the Object

Name:Milky Way Galactic Centre
Type:• Milky Way : Galaxy
• X - Galaxies
Distance:25000 light years
Constellation:Sagittarius

Image Formats

Large JPEG
1015.6 KB
Screensize JPEG
246.3 KB

Wallpapers

1024x768
259.9 KB
1280x1024
369.9 KB
1600x1200
466.0 KB
1920x1200
523.3 KB
2048x1536
679.6 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):17 45 40.04
Position (Dec):-29° 0' 26.95"
Field of view:0.30 x 0.28 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 0.3° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Infrared
K
2.18 μmVery Large Telescope
NACO

 

Also see our