Peering through the dust

This Picture of the Week shows an infrared view of Sagittarius B1, a region close to the centre of the Milky Way, imaged with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. The centre of our galaxy is an exotic environment, densely populated with stars, and has been suggested to have more star formation than any other place in the Milky Way. But so far we have only found less than 10% of all young stars we expect there. Where are the others? 

There is a catch: our view towards the centre is obscured by clouds of dust and gas, blocking the light from the stars. With infrared instruments it is possible to peer through these clouds. In this image, taken with the infrared HAWK-I instrument on ESO’s VLT, we get to take a closer look at this region. The view is mesmerising, unveiling a myriad of stars. In a recent study, a team led by Francisco Nogueras Lara (MPIA Heidelberg, Germany) discovered that this region hosts an excess of young stars, with a combined mass of more than 100 000 times the mass of the Sun. This is a key step forward in our quest to find all the expected young stars in the central regions of the Milky Way, and thus understand how stars evolve in such a unique environment.

This image comes from the GALACTICNUCLEUS survey, whose goal is to obtain high-resolution infrared images of the galactic centre. With future infrared ESO instruments such as ERIS on the VLT and MICADO on the upcoming ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the team hopes to study the stars in greater detail, which will lead to a better understanding of the evolution of the Milky Way’s centre. 

Credit:

ESO/Nogueras-Lara et al.

About the Image

Id:potw2235a
Type:Observation
Release date:29 August 2022, 06:00
Size:9191 x 4086 px

About the Object

Name:Sagittarius B1
Type:Milky Way : Star
Milky Way : Nebula : Appearance : Dark : Molecular Cloud
Constellation:Sagittarius
Category:Stars

Image Formats

Large JPEG
16.2 MB
Screensize JPEG
387.5 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
704.6 KB
1280x1024
1.1 MB
1600x1200
1.6 MB
1920x1200
1.9 MB
2048x1536
2.4 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):17 47 15.30
Position (Dec):-28° 31' 42.81"
Field of view:8.14 x 3.62 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 58.9° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Infrared
J
1.258 μmVery Large Telescope
HAWK-I
Infrared
H
1.62 μmVery Large Telescope
HAWK-I
Infrared
Ks
2.146 μmVery Large Telescope
HAWK-I