What is seen in this stunning picture is the chaotic environment surrounding the galaxy’s core (marked in white, center-right), where a supermassive black hole nearly four million times more massive than our Sun resides. Permeating the region is a diffuse blue haze of x-ray light from gas that has been heated to millions of degrees. This is generated by outflows from the supermassive black hole, as well as by winds from massive stars and by stellar explosions in the region. The infrared light, depicted in red, reveals where newborn stars are just beginning to emerge from their dark and dusty cocoons. The yellow represents the Hubble telescope’s near-infrared observations, revealing hundreds of thousands of stars and glowing clouds of gas.
The width of the entire image covers about half a degree on the sky (in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius), about the same angular width as the full moon.