An ultra-high-definition 360-degree video offers some sight-seeing from the center of the Milky Way. Provided by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the video takes the vantage point the galaxy’s supermassive black hole, allowing viewers to click and drag in any direction. For an even more immersive trip to the Galactic Center, the imagery can be experienced through virtual reality (VR) goggles.
According to the Chandra X-ray Center, the video “shows the effects of dozens of massive stellar giants with fierce winds blowing off their surfaces in the region a few light years away from the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A* for short).”
Along with seeing the swirling clumps around Sgr A*, viewers can witness the center beckon relatively low-density gas. Below is the color breakdown:
- Blue and cyan: X-ray emissions from hot gas (temperature: tens of millions of degrees).
- Red: Cooler gas with moderate densities (temperature: tens of thousands of degrees).
- Yellow: Cooler gas with highest densities.
“Sometimes clumps of gas will collide with gas ejected by other stars, resulting in a flash of X-rays when the gas is heated up, and then it quickly cools down. Farther away from the viewer, the movie also shows collisions of fast stellar winds producing X-rays. These collisions are thought to provide the dominant source of hot gas that is seen by Chandra,” according to the Chandra X-ray Center.
The 360-degree experience was created by combining NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory data with NASA Ames supercomputer simulations.
According to the observatory’s website, “NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes. Because X-rays are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, Chandra must orbit above it, up to an altitude of 139,000 km (86,500 mi) in space.”
Chandra has been operating since 1999.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense, Virtual reality