NASA 3-D MC Program funded!

The Milky way Laboratory was awarded a grant through the NASA Astrophysics Data Analysis Program in Fall 2021 entitled: “3-D MC: Mapping Circumnuclear Molecular Clouds from X-ray to Radio.” This program will combine archival Chandra X-ray data, with Herschel and Spitzer IR data, and ground-based radio/millimeter data to perform the first 3-D mapping of molecular clouds in the center of the Galaxy, while also constraining their distribution and previous flaring activity from SgrA*.

The complex interplay of gas, dust, star formation, a supermassive black hole, strong magnetic fields, and turbulence in our Galaxy’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), seen across the electromagnetic spectrum with NASA Space astrophysics missions: Spitzer (red), Hubble (orange), and Chandra (blue). Credit: NASA/JPL Caltech/ESA/CXC/STScI

Chandra has detected X-ray reflections in the CMZ caused by previous flaring events of SgrA* propagating outwards and interacting with the surrounding molecular gas. As the X-rays propagate radially outwards, they reflect and illuminate different parts of the cloud, mapping it over time, like an X-ray scan. Different epoch Chandra observations slice through the 3-D structure of the molecular clouds. We combine these multi-epoch Chandra X-ray data with archival Herschel and ground-based radio spectral line data to map the molecular clouds in 3-D.