Hidden traces of thousands of young stars discovered at the center of the Milky Way


ESO/F. Nogueras-Lara et al.

Hundreds of thousands of stars are contained in this Picture of the Week, an infrared image of Sagittarius C, a region near the centre of the Milky Way. Taken with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Chilean Atacama Desert, this image is helping astronomers unlock a stellar puzzle

The center of our galaxy is interesting not only because of the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*. There are regions that are rich in star formation. Astronomers have obtained images of one of these regions, Sagittarius C. Despite its grandeur, this image does not reflect the abundance of stars there are. Dust and gases block visibility and hide many newborns. Only the spectrum provides information about its appearance. This also serves as an indicator to look for other similar foci. This image of Sagittarius C, 300 light-years from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, was taken by the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert, Chile. The telescope’s infrared instrument HAWK-I helped it look a little deeper through the dust and gas. Without these, there would be even fewer stars visible in the survey area than in the image above. The Sagittarius C cluster contains hundreds of thousands of stars, most of which can be seen in images. “The center of the Milky Way is the most productive star-forming region in the entire galaxy,” ESO said in a statement. “But astronomers discovered only a fraction of the young stars they expected.” “There is ‘fossil’ evidence that many more stars were born recently than we actually see,” the scientists explain. “That’s because heading to the center of the galaxy is no easy task.” But the telescope’s infrared instruments peered through these clouds and were able to see Sagittarius C’s dense cluster of stars. The instrument also revealed the chemical composition of interstellar gas, leading to expectations that many new stars will emerge in this region this year. This observation will help astronomers identify new regions where they can explore other faint young stars and star clusters. The Milky Way is our stellar home, and it’s better to know more than less about it.

source: https://www.eso.org/public/france/images/potw2407a/?lang