NJIT Distinguished Professor of Physics Dale E. Gary will guide visitors on a journey to the center of the galaxy on Dec. 11, 2009 at the Cooperative Extension Services, Warren County. Gary will narrate a free slide show featuring mural-sized images of the galaxy as well as the core of the Milky Way.
The photos were taken from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope at California Institute of Technology and Harvard University’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The free event celebrates what NASA has dubbed the International Year of Astronomy, in remembrance of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first observations.
The event will be held in a meeting room of the Cooperative Extension Services, 165 County Route 519, Belvidere. For more information, call the Warren County Library, 908-475-6321, sponsor of the event.
“Our solar system's place in the galaxy was slow to develop,” said Gary. “I will present the milestones leading to the discovery that the Milky Way was an island universe, and how the search for its structure unfolded.”
Gary will also put the images into their historical and scientific context. “The galactic center region is beautifully revealed in the Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra Observatory images,” he added.
The presentation includes a huge, six by three-foot image showing a wide view of the galaxy’s mysterious hub as seen from the three telescopes. The Milky Way’s center will also be on view. The images allow viewers to trace the spectacle of stellar evolution from vibrant regions of star birth, to young hot stars, to old cool stars, to seething remnants of stellar death called black holes. Such activity occurs against a vivid backdrop in the crowded, hostile environment of the galaxy’s core, the center of which is dominated by a massive black hole millions of times larger than the Sun.
These multi-wavelength views provide both stunning beauty. “Galileo could not have dreamed of this wealth of scientific information,” said Gary.
The new images will be on display at the Warren County Library Headquarters, 199 Hardwick St., Belvidere, through Dec. 15, 2009. After that date, the exhibit moves into the Warren County Library Branches, with the first stop scheduled at the Northeast Branch, Independence.