04.01.05

Spitzer Astronomers Probe Center of Milky Way

The center of the Milky Way

The center of the Milky Way, NASA/Mars

Written by Ima Joker
Spitzer Science Center

Spitzer Space Telescope scientists have successfully probed the center of the Milky Way and have come to a stunning conclusion: the center is full of chocolate nougat.

"When we first launched Spitzer, we were told that the center of the Milky Way was too bright to observe," said Dr. April Phoole, an astronomer at the Spitzer Science Center. "But with persistence and hard work, we devised the observational strategy that made this discovery possible."

Thanks to the unique campaign, Phoole and her team have analyzed all the elements of the Milky Way: milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, chocolate, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, skim milk, less than 2% milkfat, cocoa powder processed with alkali, lactose, malted barley, wheat flour, salt, egg whites, artificial flavor, and soy protein. However, Phoole is philosophical about her discovery. "Sadly, this discovery does not help us locate the universe's 'missing' dark chocolate matter."

Spitzer has three main instruments on board: two cameras, the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC), and the Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS), and an infrared spectrograph (IRS). In the past Spitzer has been used to determine the compositions of distant galaxies, newly formed stars still embedded in clouds of dust, and debris disks where new planets may be forming.

"Next we plan to turn our attention to analyzing the small, round, multi-colored objects known to astronomers as M&M's," Phoole concluded.

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