The star-studded heart of our galaxy was visible in the sky last night. A photographer has captured stunning images of the core of the Milky Way over northern England.
Owen Humphreys, who works for the PA news agency, captured the breathtaking sight in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Bamburgh Lighthouse in Northumberland.
He said, “I’ve been after the core of the Milky Way for a long time, but weather is weather and unless it all comes together, it is not possible.”
The core shouldn’t be visible until after 3 a.m., but Mr. Humphreys arrived around midnight to scout the site and take some test shots.
He said the conditions were “perfect” to get the photo he was looking for.
“This is the best time of year to capture the Milky Way horizontally, but it’s a small window of time due to sunrise times and as we move into May the sky will be too bright.
“Fortunately, a cold night with minus 1 ° C and clear skies was perfect, which we don’t get often.”
The Milky Way contains hundreds of billions of stars, including our own sun.
It is shaped like a spiral, with arms outstretched from the core, but of the earth it appears to the naked eye only as a streak of cloudy light.
NASA says, “The center of the Milky Way, roughly the inner 10,000 light years, consists of the region where the galaxy’s spiral arm structure collapsed and turned into a” bulge “of stars.
“The heart – and the dominant force in this area of the galaxy – is a black hole with a solar mass of 1 million called Sagittarius A.
“The center of the galaxy would be an inhospitable region for humanity, where the radiation from the stars and the material would be torn apart by Sagittarius A’s strong gravity.
“Even if people could explore the region, it would take us more than 25,000 years to reach it and travel at almost the speed of light. Fortunately.”
“If you lived in the middle of the Milky Way, you would look up to a sky full of stars that is a thousand to a million times denser than we are used to, depending on how close you are to the core.
“For the inhabitants of the earth, the star closest to our sun is about four light-years away. In the center of the galaxy, the stars are only 0.4 to 0.04 light-years apart.”