The supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy.

Description: This Chandra image of Sgr A* and the surrounding region was made from a 164 hours of observation time over a two-week period. During this time the black hole flared up in X-ray intensity half a dozen or more times. The cause of these outbursts is not understood, but the rapidity with which they rise and fall indicates that they are occurring near the event horizon, or point of no return, around the black hole. Also discovered were more than two thousand other X-ray sources and huge lobes of 20 million-degree Centigrade gas (the red loops in the image at approximately the 2 o'clock and 7 o'clock positions). The lobes indicate that enormous explosions occurred near the black hole several times over the last ten thousand years.


Creator/Photographer: Chandra X-ray Observatory


NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia on July 23, 1999, is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory built to date. The mirrors on Chandra are the largest, most precisely shaped and aligned, and smoothest mirrors ever constructed. Chandra is helping scientists better understand the hot, turbulent regions of space and answer fundamental questions about origin, evolution, and destiny of the Universe. The images Chandra makes are twenty-five times sharper than the best previous X-ray telescope. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Medium: Chandra telescope x-ray


Date: 2003


Repository: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


Gift line: NASA/CXC/MIT/F.K.Baganoff et al.


Accession number: sagittariusA_03

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Taken on September 30, 2008