Image Credit: ESO/APEX & MSX/IPAC/NASA

The Milky Way is a large place. Even in optical light, that much is abundantly clear, but to get a complete image, one must look at the things that can't be seen by the human eye—light at x-ray, infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths. This stunning color composite does just that.

This image zeroes in on the center of the Milky Way: a region known to contain a whole host of stellar objects, which include numerous clusters, gas clouds and a supermassive black hole that is heavier than 400 million Suns. This black hole, called Sagittarius A*, specifically can be found around 25,000 light-years from Earth.

Lurking around 400 light-years away from Sag A*, practically next-door, cosmologically speaking, is a gargantuan gas cloud believed to be one of the largest molecular clouds in our entire galaxy. Dubbed Sagittarius B2 (Sgr B2, for short), it's known for the abundance of interstellar molecules it hosts. Among the 50-some chemical compounds that have been detected, perhaps most interesting is that of ethyl formate, which is a constituent part of drinkable alcohol (wine, liquor, beer and such). It also gives rum its smell and raspberries their flavor.

Per the European Space Observatory (ESO), "In this image, the ATLASGAL submillimetre-wavelength data are shown in red, overlaid on a view of the region in infrared light, from the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) in green and blue. Sagittarius B2 is the bright orange-red region to the middle left of the image, which is centred on the Galactic Centre."

 See a larger image here.


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