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(Credit: NASA/G.Garmire (PSU)/F.Baganoff (MIT)/Yusef-Zadeh (NWU))


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(14 Jan 00)
Sagittarius A East:
Scientists Discover Supernova May Control Activity in the Center of Our Galaxy


Sagittarius A East
Credit: NASA/Penn State/G.Garmire et al.

This Chandra X-ray image shows the relationship between the black hole Sagittarius A* and the supernova remnant Sagittarius A East, both of which are located in the center of our galaxy in the constellation Sagittarius. For the first time, astronomers using Chandra were able to separate the supernova remnant, Sgr A East, from other complex structures in the center of the Milky Way. The emission from the supernova remnant Sgr A East is depicted by the bright yellow and orange tones in the middle of this image. From the Chandra image, scientists can clearly see that Sgr A East surrounds Sgr A*, the Milky Way's central black hole found near the white dots in the lower-right portion of the central object.

With Chandra, astronomers found hot gas concentrated within the larger radio shell of Sgr A East. The gas is highly enriched by heavy elements, with four times more calcium and iron than the Sun, and that confirms earlier suspicions that Sgr A East is most likely a remnant of a supernova explosion. While dozens of supernova remnants are known in our galaxy, the proximity of Sgr A East to the black hole in the center of our galaxy makes it important. By detailing the association between Sgr A East and Sgr A*, astronomers hope to learn if this is an example of a common relationship between supernovas and black holes throughout the universe.

Fast Facts for Sagittarius A East:
Credit  NASA/Penn State/G.Garmire et al.
Scale  Image is 8.4 arcmin across.
Category  Supernovas & Supernova Remnants, Milky Way Galaxy
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 17h 45m 40.00s | Dec -29 00' 20.00
Constellation  Sagittarius
Observation Dates  September 21, 1999
Observation Time  13 hours
Obs. IDs  242
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  ACIS
Distance Estimate  25,000 light years
Release Date  February 01, 2001