Hubble captures glittering crowded hub of our Milky Way

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows a sparkling jewel box full of stars captured the heart of our Milky Way.

Aging red giant stars coexist with their more plentiful younger cousins, the smaller, white, Sun-like stars, in this crowded region of our galaxy’s ancient central hub, or bulge. Most of the bright blue stars in the image are probably recently formed stars located in the foreground, in the galaxy's disc. Astronomers studied 10 000 of these Sun-like stars in archival Hubble images over a nine-year period to unearth clues to our galaxy’s evolution.

The study reveals that the Milky Way’s bulge is a dynamic environment of variously aged stars zipping around at different speeds, like travelers bustling about a busy airport.

The researchers found that the motions of bulge stars are different, depending on a star’s chemical composition. Stars richer in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium have less disordered motions, but are orbiting around the galactic centre faster than older stars that are deficient in heavier elements.

The image is a composite of exposures taken in near-infrared and visible light with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. The observations are part of two Hubble surveys: the Galactic Bulge Treasury Program and the Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search.

The centre of our galaxy is about 26 000 light-years away.

Links:

Credit:

NASA, ESA, and T. Brown (STScI), W. Clarkson (University of Michigan-Dearborn), and A. Calamida and K. Sahu (STScI)

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Id:opo1801a
Type:Observation
Release date:12 January 2018, 13:40
Size:3336 x 2823 px

About the Object

Type:Milky Way : Star
Distance:25000 light years
Constellation:Sagittarius
Category:Stars

Image Formats

Large JPEG
5.1 MB
Screensize JPEG
605.1 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
810.0 KB
1280x1024
1.2 MB
1600x1200
1.6 MB
1920x1200
1.8 MB
2048x1536
2.3 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):17 58 58.05
Position (Dec):-29° 12' 20.62"
Field of view:2.20 x 1.86 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 16.9° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
H
1.6 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
J
1.1 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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