Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home  |   Ask an Astrophysicist  |  
Ask an Astrophysicist

The Question

(Submitted May 16, 1998)

I am curious to know why with the HST we can see the galaxies in the deep space image that are billions of light years away, but we can't study or even see the center of our own galaxy?

The Answer

It's not true that we can't study or even see the center of our galaxy. This is a very active research topic for astronomers, particularly using radio, infrared, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes.

As for seeing the Galactic center: a search in the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" site has turned up 3 nice pictures:

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap960605.html
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap970121.html
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap971111.html

However, it is true that it's hard to see the Galactic center with visible light. This is because of the dust in our own Galaxy, which can be seen in the first of the 3 "APOD" pictures above as dark patches in the Milky Way. Such dust clouds make stars behind them appear much fainter.

Hope this helps. Best Wishes,
Koji Mukai
for Ask an Astrophysicist

Previous question
Prev
Main topic
Main
Next question
Next

If words seem to be missing from the articles, please read this.

Imagine the Universe! is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
Curator: Meredith Gibb
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2014.
This page last updated: Thursday, 01-Dec-2005 13:58:40 EST