Looking deep into the Milky Way, NASA has released the clearest view yet of the mysterious heart of our galaxy. The new image is a mosaic of infrared shots taken by the Hubble Space Telescope which reveals previously undiscovered massive stars mixed in with complicated structures of super-hot ionized hydrogen gas.
This close up view of our galactic centre is not possible in visible light due to masses of dust and gas clouds blocking our view. However, infrared light can cut through these obstacles and NASA has used Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer to capture this sensational new image.
In the upper left section of the image there are giant arcs of ionized gas spanning many thousands of light-years across. Just below at the bottom left, pillars of gas surrounding the hot massive stars of the Quintuplet cluster can be seen.
But perhaps the most striking part of the image is at the lower right side. Here a bright spiral of ionized gas is visible that surrounds the supermassive black hole, 27,000 light-years from Earth, located right at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.
In total, the panorama covers around 35,000 square light-years of space.