When you look at the Milky Way in visible light, you might see billions of stars, but you miss so much more.
The human eye is only sensitive to a tiny fraction of the entire electromagnetic (light) spectrum.
Each wavelength range showcases a novel view of all that’s out there.
Gamma rays: the highest-energy light originates from black holes, neutron stars, nova outbursts, high-energy antimatter-driven bubbles, and supernova remnants.
X-rays: when matter gets heated due to collisions, stellar outflows, cataclysmic events, or acceleration from neutron stars or black holes, X-rays result.
The strongest source of X-rays are supermassive black holes.
Ultraviolet: this light typically reveals hot, newly-formed stars, but it’s lousy for viewing our own galaxy.
There’s simply too much dust, wrecking ultraviolet light’s usefulness.
Visible: This is what we normally see, billions of stars with light-blocking dust.
Infrared: Finally, the previously-obscured stars are revealed.
The long-wavelength nature of IR light makes it transparent to dust.
Mid-IR and far-IR light reveals cooler gas and protostars.
Microwaves: simply show heated dust.
Radio: the lowest-energy light reveals electrons and hydrogen gas.
With so much information, it’s better viewed in individual wavelengths.