An image of the inner part of our galaxy was captured and revealed a very festive color combination, that looks like a candy-cane.
A cluster of giant molecular clouds that look like a candy cane seems to hold the secrets to the formation of stars. The inner part of our galaxy was captured by the Goddard-IRAM Superconducting 2-Millimeter Observer (GISMO) and revealed a very festive color combination right in time for Christmas.
The innermost part of our galaxy hosts the largest and densest collection of giant molecular clouds in the Milky Way was what the instrument took an image of.
NASA’s GISMO microwave instrument detected this non-edible cosmic “candy cane” near the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers are using GISMO to map different emission processes in the inner galaxy. https://t.co/fIefS6e6r7 pic.twitter.com/6h9V820zG9— NASA Universe (@NASAUniverse) December 18, 2019
“It was a real surprise to see the Radio Arc in the GISMO data,” said Richard Arendt, a team member at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Goddard.
“Its emission comes from high-speed electrons spiraling in a magnetic field, a process called synchrotron emission. Another feature GISMO sees, called the Sickle, is associated with star formation and may be the source of these high-speed electrons.
Some things can't be seen by the human eye, but warm objects – from human bodies to interstellar dust clouds – emit infrared light.— NASA Exoplanets (@NASAExoplanets) December 19, 2019
Here @NASAspitzer reveals the Perseus Molecular Cloud's dust and stars of different ages in infrared. #SpitzerFinalVoyage https://t.co/5nyaFIFuVF pic.twitter.com/N7kBBcCMmb
In a press release by NASA, they described the complicated manner in which GISMO was able to capture this image, which is essentially color codes different emission mechanisms.
They have combined the data from GISMO, the European Space Agency’s Herschel satellite, the SCUBA-2 instrument on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, and radio observations from the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array.
🌀Spiral #galaxy M81 is located about 12 million light years from Earth. Near its center is a supermassive #BlackHole roughly 70 million times more massive than our Sun, that's about 17 times more massive than the black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy, #Sagittarius A*! pic.twitter.com/1lyE0N10IU— Chandra Observatory (@chandraxray) December 18, 2019
The candy cane handle is made up of Arches filaments that are areas full of ionized gas that represent well-developed star factories. The blue and cyan represent the areas where the star formation is still in its infancy revealing the cold dust in molecular clouds.
The Radio Arc, which is the red area that makes up the straight part of the candy cane is the bright source at the galaxy’s center that hosts its supermassive black hole.
"We're very intrigued by the beauty of this image; it's exotic," Johannes Staguhn of Johns Hopkins University, who led a paper describing the image, published in the Astrophysical Journal told CNN. "When you look at it, you feel like you're looking at some really special forces of nature in the universe."
In a press release, he says, "There's a good chance that a significant part of star formation that occurred during the universe's infancy is obscured and can't be detected by tools we've been using, and GISMO will be able to help detect what was previously unobservable."