This infrared mosaic from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is the clearest survey of the Galactic Center -- the rotational center of the Milky Way -- available. Dust clouds prevent visible light from the Galaxy's core from reaching Hubble, but infrared light can make it through. In the image's lower-right hand region, a super-bright spiral of ionized gas surrounds the massive black hole at the Galaxy's center. The images, taken by Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer captures the glow of ionized hydrogen gas and stars.
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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Family and Education sections.