Space

Survey of Milky Way yields huge 50,000 x 25,000-pixel zoomable image

Survey of Milky Way yields hug...
Some of the survey data was compiled into a massive zoomable image
Some of the survey data was compiled into a massive zoomable image
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Some of the survey data was compiled into a massive zoomable image
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Some of the survey data was compiled into a massive zoomable image
A wide-field view of our galaxy's core with a pull-out image taken by the Dark Energy Camera below
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A wide-field view of our galaxy's core with a pull-out image taken by the Dark Energy Camera below
The DECam's 74 CCDs captured a mass of data on the Milky Way's central region
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The DECam's 74 CCDs captured a mass of data on the Milky Way's central region
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A team of astronomers has completed a massive survey of the Milky Way’s central bulge, which captured the light fingerprint of over 250 million stars, and could help provide new insights into our galaxy’s history and creation. A massive 50,000 x 25,000-pixel zoomable color-composite view of the star field was also created from the data, presenting an opportunity for non-scientists to experience the majesty of our galaxy in exquisite detail.

The survey was conducted using the Dark Energy Matter Camera (DECam) mounted on the Victor M. Blanco 4-m telescope located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The central region of the Milky Way was observed in incredible detail in the near-ultraviolet, optical and near-infrared wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Over 7,000 exposures were captured over the course of the survey, which equated to a grand total of roughly 450,000 individual CCD images, or a staggering 3.5-trillion pixels.

With the data set complete, the astronomers proceeded to analyze the chemical compositions of 70,000 the 250 million stars captured in the survey, which were spread over a region of the night sky that spanned roughly 1,000 times the size of the full Moon.

The stars close to the galactic center were found to share a similar composition, suggesting that they formed at roughly the same time, and from the same materials.

A wide-field view of our galaxy's core with a pull-out image taken by the Dark Energy Camera below
A wide-field view of our galaxy's core with a pull-out image taken by the Dark Energy Camera below

“Many other spiral galaxies look like the Milky Way and have similar bulges, so if we can understand how the Milky Way formed its bulge then we’ll have a good idea of how the other galaxies did too,” commented study co-leader Christian Johnson of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

The main part of the survey has been made available as a gargantuan, 50,000 x 25,0000-pixel zoomable color-composite image, that lets members of the public explore the spectacular star field at the heart of the Milky Way to their hearts’ content.

The papers detailing the survey have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 1, 2. The video below zooms in on the center of our galaxy.

Zooming to the Center of the Milky Way

Source: National Science Foundation NOIRLab

View gallery - 3 images
5 comments
BERNARD F EBERT
How can anyone look at this and not be overwhelmed by God and his boundless, incomprehensible creation?
Randy Weiss
How can anyone look at this and not be overwhelmed by the skill and work of the astronomers who created this picture of the randomly occurring galaxies in the universe?
Hurray for technology, science, and the laws of physics !!
fasteddie2020
Wow!
Humans will always find it difficult to comprehend times so great and spaces so vast. We know our own star very well.....so we are easily staggered to realize that there are more stars in our universe than grains of sands on all the beaches of Earth.
McDesign
It makes us seem impossibly rural.
AlexEucare
Estimated 300 million inhabitable planets in just the Milky Way galaxy alone.

There are 2+ TRILLION galaxies in the "known" universe.

Bottom Line: Statistically, WE ARE NOT ALONE !