Apr 05, 2014 I Tom Head

Unveiling the Center of the Galaxy

We don't know very much about the center of our galaxy, and small wonder—it's blocked off by interstellar dust and about 27,000 light years away. (It also probably contains a supermassive black hole.) UCLA astrophysicist Andrea Ghez has spent most of her professional career studying the Milky Way, and explains in very frank terms that we don't really know very much about the center yet or why it functions the way it does (pay special attention to what she says about the mind-churningly bizarre presence of young stars near the black hole, which reinforces the point that the center of the galaxy is an incredibly weird place):


So when we can actually learn something new about the center of the Milky Way, it's cause for celebration. And a detailed Fermilab analysis of gamma radiation points us towards the very strong probability that the center of our galaxy contains dark matter. If you're familiar with the concept of dark matter, you know that this on its own doesn't tell us much—the defining characteristic of dark matter is that we don't know what the heck it is. But if the galactic center does indeed include dark matter, this could go a long way towards explaining why we've had such a difficult time figuring out what it's made of.

Tom Head
Tom Head is an author or coauthor of 29 nonfiction books, columnist, scriptwriter, research paralegal, occasional hellraiser, and proud Jackson native. His book Possessions and Exorcisms (Fact or Fiction?) covers the recent demand for exorcists over the past 30 years and demonic possession.

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