The Milky Way as you've never seen it before: New nine GIGAPIXEL image reveals our galaxy in unprecedented detail

Unique view is a monumental 108,200 by 81,500 pixel colour image containing nearly nine billion pixels

iIf printed with the resolution of a typical book, it would be 9 metres long and 7 metres tall

A new striking nine-gigapixel image has captured a catalogue of more than 84 million stars in the central parts of the Milky Way - ten times more than previously observed.

It has also found a large number of faint red dwarf stars which are prime candidates around which to search for small exoplanets - planets outside the solar system that may be Earth-like.

This treasure trove of information about the structure and content of the Milky Way is one of the biggest astronomical images ever produced and provides an incredible, zoomable view of the central part of our galaxy and is so large that, if printed with the resolution of a typical book, it would be 9 metres long and 7 metres tall.

To see a fully zoomable version of the new map, click here.

Yet despite its vast size, the image covers just one per cent of the entire sky - about 315 square degrees of the sky.

The Via Lactea survey - the Latin name for the Milky Way - has scanned the southern plane and bulge of the Milky Way since 2010 and has three more years to run.

The image above is an insane 108,200 by 81,500 pixels. If printed at the standard photo resolution of a book, it would stretch 30 feet tall and 23 feet wide, easily able cover the side of a three-story building. You can download the entire 24.6 Gigabyte version, if you dare.

But so far astronomers have observed about 173 million objects, of which about 84 million have been confirmed as stars.

The other objects were either too faint or blended with their neighbours or affected by other artefacts, so that accurate measurements were not possible. Others were extended objects such as distant galaxies.

Astronomers hope the breakthrough will provide a giant leap forward in our understanding of the universe and was captured by the VISTA infrared survey telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal facility in Chile.

Roberto Saito said: 'By observing in detail the myriads of stars surrounding the centre of the Milky Way we can learn a lot more about the formation and evolution of not only our galaxy, but also spiral galaxies in general.'

Most spiral galaxies, including our home galaxy the Milky Way, have a large concentration of ancient stars surrounding the centre that astronomers call the bulge - and understanding the formation and evolution of the bulge is vital for understanding the galaxy as a whole.

However space dust obscured the bulge of the Milky Way so "to peer into the heart of the galaxy" scientists needed to observe in infrared light which is less affected by the dust.

To help analyse the catalogue the brightness of each star is plotted against its colour for about 84 million stars to create a colour-magnitude diagram which contains more than ten times more stars than any previous study and it is the first time that this has been done for the entire bulge.

It will then allow astronomers to study the different physical properties of stars such as their temperatures, masses and ages.

Fellow researcher Dante Minniti added: 'Each star occupies a particular spot in this diagram at any moment during its lifetime.

An annotated version of the image revealing known areas and the center of the Milky Way

'Where it falls depends on how bright it is and how hot it is.

'Since the new data gives us a snapshot of all the stars in one go, we can now make a census of all the stars in this part of the Milky Way.'

Source This findings are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

VIDEO Center of the Milky Way Galaxy As Imaged By Vista

Responses to "Amazing Photo Captures 84 Million Stars in Our Milky Way Galaxy (Video)"

Write a comment