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Galactic nucleus

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 6 January, 2009 - 08:38

During the January meeting of the American Astronomical Society, NASA released a detailed image of the galactic centre region:

Even more amazing is a detail not included in the NASA release but on astronomer Daniel Wang's own website:

This is the most detailed image I've ever seen of the galactic nucleus. This brings out great detail in the central spiral swirling around the ball of hot gas surrounding Sgr A*, the 4 million solar mass black hole at the core of the Milky Way.

New site

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 29 December, 2008 - 12:10

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that I could no longer log-in to post updates to this site. I decided that that this was a sign from the computer gods (or perhaps my Internet service provider) that it was time to upgrade my Drupal installation.

So now this site is running the latest version of Drupal (6.8 as I write this).

I didn't migrate the user accounts, however, so if you want to post comments, you will need to register again for a user account. Apologies for the inconvenience.

The SuperCOSMOS explorer

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 7 December, 2008 - 20:49

I've added the SuperCOSMOS explorer to the Introduction to the Milky Way Explorer. This shows detailed hydrogen-alpha images of the southern galactic plane (30° > l > 210°). As I explain in the Introduction to the Milky Way Explorer, the SuperCOSMOS data is not calibrated and there are some obvious plate transitions. Nevertheless, I think that these images are very useful and show details of some large faint nebulae that I've never seen before.

For example, here is an image of Sh 2-11 (the War and Peace nebula) together with the much less known Sh 2-12 and Sh 2-13, which I've never seen properly imaged anywhere before. Sh 2-12 is the larger nebula on the left, and Sh 2-13 appears above it. All three nebulae appear to be ionised by stars in or near the Sco OB4 association.

Announcing the Milky Way Explorer

Submitted by Kevin Jardine on 21 November, 2008 - 08:21

The Flash-based Galactic Plane Explorer has been replaced by the new Google-maps-based Milky Way Explorer. A detailed description of the content, sources, and usage can be found here:

These maps are in galactic coordinates and focus on major Milky Way objects. They are not intended to compete with all-sky services like that show millions of objects. If you are looking for a web-based virtual telescope, then is definitely where you should start.

Over time I'll be adding to the available Milky Way Explorer data. There are already a dozen different views available. Two of my favourites are the views that overlay an IRAS colour image over a galactic plane radio height map to create a composite "mountains in the sky" infrared/radio terrain that reveals a huge number of objects invisible at visual frequencies.

In addition to changing the interface and adding larger views at more frequencies, I've done more data mining using the Avedisova catalog, SIMBAD and the ADS to assign appropriate names to the Avedisova markers that appear at the higher zoom levels. I still have a lot more data mining to do - the ultimate goal is to produce a much more complete list of significant Milky Way structures than could be produced from purely visual frequency catalogs like the Sharpless or RCW nebulae alone.


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