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Candy Cane of Cosmic Proportions

Candy Cane of Cosmic Proportions

Imagine how long it
would take to eat a candy cane that’s a thousand trillion miles tall!



Scientists peering into the center of our
Milky Way galaxy found this 190-light-year tall “candy cane,” but (sadly) it is
not a peppermint treat. It does contain other goodies, though. They have found
huge collections of material, called giant molecular clouds, where stars are
being born. And there are magnetic fields that might be evidence of a bubble
from an outburst in our galactic center long ago.


The full image shows our galaxy’s center in
infrared (blue), radio (red) and microwave (“minty” green) light. The picture essentially
color codes different ways light is produced. The blue and cyan regions show us
cool dust where star formation has just begun. Yellow features show
more-established star “factories.” Red reveals places where electrically
charged gas interacts with magnetic fields.

This image includes newly published
observations using an instrument designed and built at NASA’s Goddard Space
Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, called the Goddard-IRAM Superconducting
2-Millimeter Observer (GISMO). It was used with a 30-meter radio telescope
located on Pico Veleta, Spain, operated by the Institute for Radio Astronomy in
the Millimeter Range headquartered in Grenoble, France. The image shows a
region about 750 light-years wide.

Find out more about this image and what we can learn from studying star factories!

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