First Look at Milky Way's Monster in High-Energy X-ray Light

Nustar_nustar121023b_500

nustar_nustar121023b October 23rd, 2012

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This is the first, focused high-energy X-ray view of the area surrounding the supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A*, at the center of our galaxy. The image was taken by NASA's black-hole hunter, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. Different X-ray energies have been assigned colors to make the composite images shown here.

While Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* for short, is huge -- about 4 million times the mass of our sun -- it's actually smaller than typical black holes situated at the centers of galaxies. Sgr A* is also a lot quieter than other supermassive black holes, only nibbling on fuel, such as stars, gas clouds, comets or asteroids -- or not eating at all. The black hole's eating habits are still largely a mystery, which NuSTAR's new views will help address.

The brightest white dot is the hottest material located closest to the black hole, and the surrounding pinkish blob is hot gas, likely belonging to a nearby supernova remnant.

The image is composed of light seen at four different X-ray energies. Blue light represents energies of 10 to 30 kiloelectron volts (keV); green is 7 to 10 keV; and red is 3 to 7 keV.

Image Source: /image/nustar/nustar121023b

Curator: NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, Pasadena, CA,

Image Use Policy: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Sagittarius A* Sgr A*
Subject - Milky Way
Galaxy » Component » Center/Core
Galaxy » Component » Central Black Hole

Distance

Universescale1
25,900 light years
Nustar_nustar121023b_128
 

Position Details

Position (FK5)
RA = 17h 45m 39.0s
DEC = -29° 0’ 34.3”
Orientation
North is 28.0° CCW
Field of View
12.3 x 12.3 arcminutes
Constellation
Sagittarius

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_red NuSTAR X-ray 248.0 pm
Arrow_left_green NuSTAR X-ray 145.9 pm
Arrow_left_blue NuSTAR X-ray 62.0 pm
Spectrum_xray1w
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_blue
Nustar_nustar121023b_1280
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ID
nustar121023b
Subject Category
B.5.4.9   B.5.4.6  
Subject Name
Sagittarius A*, Sgr A*
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Lightyears
25,900
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/nustar/nustar121023b
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
NuSTAR, NuSTAR, NuSTAR
Instrument
Color Assignment
Red, Green, Blue
Band
X-ray, X-ray, X-ray
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
0.248, 0.1459, 0.062
Start Time
2012-07-20T02:11, 2012-07-20T02:11, 2012-07-20T02:11
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
FK5
Equinox
2000
Reference Value
266.41251, -29.00952
Reference Dimension
300, 300
Reference Pixel
106, 200
Scale
-0.0006828, 0.0006828
Rotation
28
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array
URL
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
Country
Rights
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/
Publisher
Publisher ID
nustar
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/nustar/nustar121023b
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2014-07-16 17:36:39 -0700
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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Universescalefull
25,900 light years