Massive Stars in the Milky Way in 60 Seconds
Narrator (April Hobart, CXC): Like looking for Easter eggs in a lawn of long grass, the hunt for the Milky Way's most massive stars takes persistence and sharp eyes and powerful telescopes that can see different types of light. This image shows infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope near the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. These boxes contain a darkened view of the Spitzer data that highlights a bright Chandra X-ray source. Analysis of the X-ray and infrared data, as well as optical and radio observations, reveals that these bright sources are extremely massive stars. In fact, these stars are thought to be at least 25 times as massive as our Sun. It is difficult to find these stars with optical telescopes because dust and gas in the plane of the Milky Way blocks our view. We can see them in X-rays because high-speed winds from their surfaces collide with material, creating shock waves that generate temperatures up to 100 million degrees.