Saturday, November 22, 2014

Downtown: Astro FOTD

The center of our galaxy is a happening place - besides the resident kinda-sorta Super Massive Black Hole (3 million solar masses or so, but a piker compared to those in the big elliptical galaxies) - there is a very high density of stars, rampant recent star birth, and dusty clouds of gas. We can't see this stuff in the visible, as only about one visible photon in a trillion makes it way through the dust to us, but other wavelengths penetrate better.

It's a starry starry night there, as stellar density is a million times greater than in our neighborhood. On a dark night, a person of good eyesight on Earth can see about 7000 stars - if you were in the galactic nucleus, you could see millions.

A nice place to visit, perhaps, but you wouldn't want to live there. O supergiants are bound to go supernova soon, and the radiation from the BH and other hot stuff would make the place pretty uninhabitable.