An impressive image of the center of the Milky Way was recorded with the help of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
SOFIA took a series of images from July 1 to July 11, 2019. Within this timeframe, it was controlled by an ambitious team of researchers from Caltech. The picture which captures the galactic center is a composite one.
It was recorded at wavelengths between 25 and 37 microns, which were superimposed over other images shot by the Herschel Space Observatory.
With the help of the images collected by SOFIA, the researchers crafted a series of maps. It appears that the dust present in the area is being heated by a large number of stars, including some which are up to 100 times more massive than our sun.
The Stunning Image of Our Galactic Center
Previous infrared maps did not over significant information about several dust features, which remained a puzzle for a long time. Scientists hope that the maps will convey more data since they pack a level of detail that hasn’t been available in the past.
The new images also showcase more of the features that can be encountered among star-forming regions. A total of eight observing runs took place. During these runs, the researchers strived to monitor the data feed to avoid any possible issues. Winds and other circumstantial factors can impact the length of each flight, and many precise adjustments are needed before the task begins.
The mechanics which favor the formation of stars in that specific area of the galaxy continue to remain a mystery for the researchers. Some of the new data contradict previous theories, and further research is needed before a definite conclusion can be offered.
It is essential to mention the fact that this new galactic map will play a significant role in future initiatives, including the operation of the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. A comprehensive article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.