Area Photographs of the Week: Residence Is The place the Supermassive Black Gap Is

This week we’re spending some time at home, in our own Milky Way galaxy. But wait, you say: How can we take photos of our own galaxy from the inside? It’s not easy, to be sure: Scientists are left looking up and down, left and right trying to image pieces as best they can.

This week, NASA released a visualization of the galactic core of the Milky Way. Most galaxies have black holes near their centers, and our is no exception. One reason to study the center of our galaxy is to see how this supermassive black hole interacts with the dense nearby stars. Don’t worry, though, we’ll all be long gone before this black hole devours our solar system.

The Hubble observatory has been staring into the depths of the Milky Way as well. The galactic core contains tens of thousands of stars, and a healthy variety of young and old. By studying the stars nearer the center of our galaxy, scientists can learn more about how quickly they move around the core. They found that stars with different chemical compositions—those containing more hydrogen, for example—move at different speeds.

If you’re looking for spacey pictures of home, though, you can’t do much better than a snapshot of Earth taken from the International Space Station. The orbiting laboratory is the same size as a regulation-size football field, and usually has six people on board at any given time. Not only are they conducting science experiments while in zero gravity, but they take some pretty spectacular photos of our home planet—letting us all feel like armchair astronauts. Need some more space in your life? Check out the full collection of space photos here.

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