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9 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.

http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1242a/zoomable/

https://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1242a/zoomable/

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.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.


'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.'These findings are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1242a/zoomable/


Added: Oct-24-2012 Occurred On: Oct-24-2012
By: bandit1200
In:
Science and Technology
Tags: gigapixel, Galaxy, Milkyway, Space, Universe, Astrophysics, Astronomy
Location: United States (load item map)
Views: 4109 | Comments: 30 | Votes: 3 | Favorites: 7 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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