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Sagittarius A* (thermal colors)
(Credit: NASA/MIT/F. Baganoff et al.)

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Sagittarius A*:
Chandra Catches Milky Way Monster Snacking

Sagittarius A*
Credit: NASA/MIT/F.Baganoff et al.

This false-color image shows the central region of our Milky Way Galaxy as seen by Chandra. The bright, point-like source at the center of the image was produced by a huge X-ray flare that occurred in the vicinity of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. This central black hole has about 2.6 million times the mass of our Sun and is associated with the compact radio source Sagittarius A*.

During the observation the X-ray source at the galactic center brightened dramatically in a few minutes, and after about 3 hours, rapidly declined to the pre-flare level. The rapid variation in X-ray intensity indicates that the flare was due to material as close to the black hole as the Earth is to the Sun. This is the most compelling evidence yet that matter falling toward the black hole is fueling energetic activity in the galactic center.

Fast Facts for Sagittarius A*:
Credit  NASA/MIT/F.Baganoff et al.
Scale  Image is 8 arcmin across.
Category  Black Holes, Milky Way Galaxy
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 17h 45m 40s | Dec -29° 00´ 28.00"
Constellation  Sagittarius
Observation Dates  Sept 21, 1999 and Oct 26-27, 2000
Observation Time  21 hours
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  ACIS
Also Known As Galactic Center
References F. Baganoff et al., Nature 413, 45 (6 September 2001)
Distance Estimate  26,000 light years
Release Date  September 05, 2001