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Galactic Center: Center of the Milky Way Galaxy

Type of Object:  The center of the Milky Galaxy probably contains a supermassive (several million times the mass of our sun) black hole.  The  galactic center is called SGR-A*.  The area surrounding SGR-A* contains emission of light from across the electromagnetic spectrum.  The center is obscured by dust clouds in the interstellar medium - so most of our observations are made in the near-infrared and radio parts of the spectrum.

Distance: 26,000 light years
Size: About 100 lyr across, depending on what part of the spectrum you are observing in.
Coordinates (Epoch J2000):
         Right Ascension:       
17 45 12
         Declination:                -28 43 00.0

Other Names: Galactic Center, W 24

Radio Brightness at 1420 MHz (21 cm): 2000 Jy

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Location on the sky: The galactic center is located in the constellation Sagittarius. If you draw Sagittarius as a tea kettle shape, then the galactic center is pouring out of the spout, as shown in the figure to the right.

Imagesshown below, at different wavelengths, cover a
1.0 degree x 1.0 degree area of the sky centered on the nebula.  The images are taken from the SKYVIEW Virtual Observatory maintained under NASA ADP Grant NAS5-32068 with P.I.
Thomas A. McGlynn under the auspices of the High Energy Astrophysics Science  Archive Research Center (HEASARC) at the GSFC Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics. SKYVIEW contains catalogs and surveys from x-ray to radio observations. The site is located at http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Visible image from the digitized Palomar Sky Survey E plates.  The galactic center is obscured in the visible by interstellar clouds.  Some faint emission can be seen.

Far-Infrared falso-color image at 100 microns taken by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) Survey. Shows warm dust along the galactic center.

False-color image taken at the radio emission of neutral hydrogen at 1420 MHz by the NRAO VLA Sky Survey.  Shows gas component of the galactic center.

False-color image taken at the radio emission frequency of 4850 MHz.  Image shows the gas component..  Image is from a Green Bank survey  from 0 to +75 declination).

[Orion Nebula] [crab_nebula] [W3] [cas_a] [cygnus_a] [her_a] [vir_a] [galactic_center] [sgp] [ngp]