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September 8, 1995
The Milky Way's Centre
COsmic Background Explorer (COBE) Project
COBE satellite scanned the heavens at infrared wavelengths in
1990 and produced this premier view of the central region of our own Milky Way
Galaxy. The Milky Way is a typical spiral
galaxy with a central bulge and extended disk of stars. However, gas
within the disk obscure visible wavelengths of light effectively
preventing clear observations of the centre. Since infrared
wavelengths, are less affected by the obscuring material, the
Diffuse InfraRed Background Experiment (DIRBE)
on board COBE was able to
detected infrared light from stars surrounding the galactic centre and
produce this image.
Of course, the edge on perspective represents
the view from the vicinity of our Sun,
a star located in the disk about 30,000 light years out from the centre.
The DIRBE experiment used equipment cooled by a tub
of liquid helium to detect the infrared light which, composed of wavelengths
longer than red light, is invisible to the human eye.
Tomorrow's picture: The Last Moon Shot
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