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Mystery Photo

What in the world is it?

Mystery Photo
Don’t peek at the answer until you’ve given this a good try! Then, scroll down a bit and the truth will be revealed to you.

(Image Credit: 2MASS/G. Kopan, R. Hurt)

A Caterpillar on ice? Close-up of an eyebrow? No, it’s the center of our Milky Way Galaxy in the constellation of Sagittarius. But this no ordinary view of our galaxy’s heart. This image shows details in the infrared part of the spectrum, in an area roughly 10 x 8 degrees (about the area of your fist held out at arm’s length). In normal, visible light most of the stars in this direction are hidden behind thick clouds of dust. But infrared light can penetrate this dust shield to see what lies behind.

The image, taken by the 2MASS telescope at Mount Hopkins in Arizona, reveals millions upon millions of otherwise hidden stars, penetrating all the way to the central star cluster of the Galaxy (seen in the upper left portion of the image). Recently, astronomers have found the most convincing evidence yet that a huge black hole, more than a million times the mass of the Sun, lurks at the very core of our galaxy. Black holes are thought to be the remains of dead quasars, the powerful, super-bright hearts of galaxies. The Milky Way’s black hole has been described as the "Holy Grail" of astrophysics. The Black Hole’s edge, called the event horizon, "separates our Universe from another world," says Fulvio Melia, an astronomer at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "Some say that when you cross the event horizon, time becomes space and space becomes time."


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