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11.10.09

Great Observatories' Unique Views of the Milky Way

In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, NASA's Great Observatories -- the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory -- have produced a matched trio of images of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy. Each image shows the telescope's different wavelength view of the galactic center region, illustrating the unique science each observatory conducts.

Although best known for its visible-light images, Hubble also observes over a limited range of infrared light. The galactic center is marked by the bright patch in the lower right. Along the left side are large arcs of warm gas that have been heated by clusters of bright massive stars. In addition, Hubble uncovered many more massive stars across the region. Winds and radiation from these stars create the complex structures seen in the gas throughout the image. This sweeping panorama is one of the sharpest infrared pictures ever made of the galactic center region.