Graveyard of Stars May Lie at Milky Way's Center
An unidentified blast of powerful X-rays suggests something violent is happening at the core of the galaxy—but astronomers aren't sure what it is.
The center of the Milky Way is a crowded, violent place, where stars and gas clouds whirl at high speed around a gigantic black hole. Now astronomers have spotted a haze of high-energy X-rays in this maelstrom that might be coming from dead stars—enough of them to make up a starry mass graveyard.
They X-rays are bunched tightly around the Milky Way's central black hole and come from a region about 13 light-years across and 26 light-years thick. “The mystery,” says Kerstin Perez of Haverford College and Columbia University, “is where does that haze come from?”
The answer, says Perez, lead author of a report published Wednesday in Nature on the X-ray haze: “We don’t know.”
When stars venture