This video sequence zooms into the Hubble Space Telescope view of the galactic core. Hubble's infrared vision pierced the dusty heart of our Milky Way galaxy to reveal more than half a million stars at its core. Except for a few blue, foreground stars, the stars are part of the Milky Way's nuclear star cluster, the most massive and densest stellar cluster in our galaxy. Located 27,000 light-years away, this region is so packed with stars, it is equivalent to having a million suns crammed into the volume of space between us and our closest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light-years away. At the very hub of our galaxy, this star cluster surrounds the Milky Way's central supermassive black hole, which is about 4 million times the mass of our sun.
Acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, A. Fujii, Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, UKSTU/AAO, NASA/JPL-Caltech/S. Stolovy (Spitzer Science Center/Caltech), Q.D. Wang (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), T. Do and A. Ghez (UCLA), and V. Bajaj (STScI)
Publication: March 31, 2016