Notre Dame to unveil multi-wavelength NASA images

Author: Marissa Runkle

In commemoration of the International Year of Astronomy, the University of Notre Dame will unveil new mural-sized images from NASA’s great observatories Thursday (Nov. 19) during two shows in the Digital Visualization Theater in the Jordan Hall of Science.

The shows, which are free and open to the public, will begin at 7 and 8 p.m. Free tickets, which are required for the show, are available at the LaFortune Student Center box office.

The Digital Visualization Theater will take viewers on a journey to the center of our galaxy and unveil unprecedented mural-sized images of the Milky Way’s core as seen by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory.

NASA mural

Notre Dame also will unveil a matched trio of Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra images of the Milky Way’s center on a large 3-by-4-foot panel. Each image shows the telescope’s different wavelength view of the central region of our galaxy that illustrates not only the unique science each observatory conducts, but also how far astronomy has come since Galileo.

The stunning photographs of the central region of our galaxy commemorate the International Year of Astronomy 2009, which is the 400th anniversary of Galileo turning a telescope to the heavens. Since Galileo’s spyglass, telescopes have grown ever larger and better, and have moved to mountaintops and into space. NASA’s Great Observatories represent the crowning achievements of astronomy four centuries later and are honoring this legacy with a national image unveiling.

A giant 6-by-3-foot image presents a unique view that showcases the galaxy in near-infrared light observed by Hubble, infrared light observed by Spitzer, and X-ray light observed by Chandra. This combined image was carefully assembled from mosaic photo surveys of the core by each telescope. It provides the most wide-ranging view ever of our galaxy’s mysterious hub.

Within these images one can trace the spectacle of stellar evolution: from vibrant regions of star birth, to young hot stars, to old cool stars, to seething remnants of stellar death called black holes. This activity occurs against a vivid backdrop in the crowded, hostile environment of the galaxy’s core, the center of which is dominated by a super massive black hole millions of times more massive than our sun.

These multi-wavelength views provide both stunning beauty and a wealth of scientific information that could not have been dreamed of by Galileo.
Contact: Keith Davis, director, Digital Visualization Theater,, 574-631-3952

Originally published by Marissa Runkle at on November 17, 2009.