The Center of the Galaxy Like You’ve Never Seen It, at UMaine 

If you turn a telescope up to the night sky, you’ll see a lot of stars. But it’s what you can’t see that’s been driving NASA researchers.Now, they’ve made the invisible, visible– and an image of what they’ve found is on display at the University of Maine.”The neat thing is, that if you were to look at the sky with just a regular telescope at night, you would see nothing. It would be cloudy. It would be dark and there’s so much gas and dust,” says astronomy professor Dr. Neil Comins.The image they displayed Thursday is of the center of our galaxy. And it’s one that has never been seen before.Comins says NASA researchers were able to create the photo by overlaying images from three different telescopes, exploring three different parts of the spectrum.”Two parts are the infrared, which we can’t see, but we feel as heat, and the other part is X-ray, like the kind of X-rays you have in a doctors office,” he says. “Since the X-rays and infrared can see through the clouds, we can see these features absolutely invisible to us otherwise.”NASA selected UMaine’s planetarium as the only site in the state to show off these images to the public.”They’re a beautiful image to enjoy, just for the composition. It’s like a very modernistic, impressionistic interpretation of our galaxy,” says Planetarium Director Alan Davenport.They say the images present researchers with scientific information they couldn’t access before, and could hold clues to hazards far off in our planet’s future.”Our planet is part of a much bigger system. And the better we can understand the galaxy, the better we can understand the stars, the better we can anticipate what the future of our own planet is going to be,” Davenport says.The murals will hang at Jordan Planetarium at least all year.For more information on the telescopes used to make the images, you can visit them online:Hubble Space Telescope Spitzer Space TelescopeChandra X-ray Observatory