Extreme galactic closeup. Video. Hubble Space Telescope/YouTube
Ever had a case of galactic vertigo? Here's your chance, courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. This new video was stitched together from Hubble wide field images, providing a sense of what it might feel like to make the 27,000 light year trek from Earth to the center of the Milky Way in under 30 seconds. The result is both mesmerizing and slightly quease-inducing, so try not to hurl on the galactic core.
One of the most stunning visual shifts in the sequence is the rising star population as the video closes in on the Milky Way's navel. Stars are much more densely clustered together near our galaxy's central supermassive black hole than they are out where Earth is located. If we were to inhabit this inner region, there would be one million stars packed into the space between the Sun and its nearest star, Alpha Centauri, located 4.3 light years away. Because of this intense stellar gradient, the video almost reads like driving into a brightly lit city from the galactic sticks.
This dizzying tour is a composite of several new Hubble images across infrared, visible, and ultraviolet wavelengths, and is part of an ongoing effort to characterize the properties of the Milky Way's vibrant galactic center.