The largest image of the Milky Way

The largest astronomical image to date is the picture of the Milky Way contains 46 billion pixels.   Take a look at the amazing details…

Astronomers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have compiled this Milky Way image, containing data gathered in astronomical observations over a period of five years.



Top image: A part of the largest Milky Way image. See the red marked area at the zoomed image (above).   Credit Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Headed by Prof Dr Rolf Chini from the Chair of Astrophysics, they have provided this amazing online tool: http://gds.astro.rub.de.

Five-year observation period at the university observatory

For five years, the astronomers from Bochum have been monitoring our Galaxy in the search of objects with variable brightness. Those objects may, for example, include stars in front of which a planet is passing, or multiple systems where stars orbit each other and which obscure each other every now and then. In his PhD thesis, Moritz Hackstein is compiling a catalogue of such variable objects of medium brightness. For this purpose, the team from the Chair of Astrophysics takes pictures of the southern sky night after night. To this end, they use the telescopes at Bochum’s university observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile. More than 50,000 new variable objects, which had hitherto not been recorded in databanks, have been discovered by the researchers so far.



Online tool facilitates search for individual celestial objects

Using the online tool, any interested person can view the complete ribbon of the Milky Way at a glance, or zoom in and inspect specific areas. An input window, which provides the position of the displayed image section, can be used to search for specific objects. If the user types in “Eta Carinae”, for example, the tool moves to the respective star; the search term “M8” leads to the lagoon nebula.

source Ruhr-Universität Bochum