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Q&A: Galaxies, Galaxy Clusters, AGN, and Quasars

Q:
In my local newspaper an article from the Los Angeles Times has the following quote, "...the center of the galaxy..is a violent place where stars are forming, dying and exploding at furious rates and being buffeted by supernova shock waves." So, how do you define "furious rates"? Is the reporter referring in cosmic terms? Are new stars being formed at the rate of 1 per second? or one per million years? and exploding at the same rate?

A:
The star formation rate in the central region of the Milky Way varies from place to place. It is concentrated in giant molecular clouds that are common there. In one of these clouds, a few hundred thousand stars have formed over the past ten million years, and a hundred or more supernovas have occurred in that period. In our neck of the Milky Way, the rate is much less. No supernovas have occurred within a few dozen light years in the last 10 million years.

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