Time-lapse Movie of Galactic Center X-ray Binaries
This sequence of 5 images is part of an ongoing Chandra program that monitors a region around the Milky Way's supermassive black hole, Sgr A*. Four bright, variable X-ray sources were discovered within 3 light years of Sgr A*. The variability is indicative of an X-ray binary system where a black hole or neutron star is pulling matter from a nearby companion star. Such a high concentration of X-ray binaries in this region is strong circumstantial evidence that a dense swarm of 10,000 or more stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars has formed around Sgr A*. The swarm likely formed as stellar-mass black holes, and to a lesser extent, neutron stars, gradually sank toward the center of the Galaxy over the course of several billion years.
[Run Time: 1:02]
(Credits: NASA/CXC/UCLA/M.Muno et al.)