ORONO, Maine — Dust prevents telescopes from providing a good picture of the Milky Way, but NASA has come up with a way to get around that problem and has produced a highly detailed image now on display at Wingate Hall at the University of Maine.
NASA took two infrared images and one X-ray image and combined them for “arguably the best image that has ever been taken,” of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, Neil Comins, UMaine physics and astronomy professor, said Friday.
In addition to an amazing visual image, “We can see more activity and understand what’s going on better than before,” he said. “We can use that to better understand the workings of many, many galaxies similar to our own.”
The murals, one 6 feet by 3 feet, and the other 3 feet by 4 feet, show a high-resolution, never-before-seen image of the center region of our galaxy, created by X-ray and infrared technology at NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The murals were unveiled at the university’s Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium this week and will be on display throughout 2010. The mural unveiling kicks off the International Year of Astronomy, a press release from UMaine indicated.
Of 150 libraries and planetariums nationally that applied to display the murals, UMaine is the only site in Maine to receive them. Planetarium Director Alan Davenport deserves a lot of credit because he worked hard to get them, Comins said.
“It’s a really cool thing,” Comins said.
The public is invited to view the murals, he said.
UMaine’s Jordan Planetarium will offer two family adventures at 7 p.m. Fridays and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 2010.
For November, Friday nights feature, “Touching the Edge of the Universe,” and Sunday shows are “Earth’s Wild Ride,” which is geared toward younger participants.
For information call the planetarium at 581-1341 or visit www.GalaxyMaine.com.