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84 Million Stars in 9 Billion Pixels

Here is the Milky Way Galaxy as you have never seen it before. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has just released a zoomable image representing the central concentration of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy that, if printed in full resolution, would be nearly 30 feet wide and over 20 feet tall. 

84 million objects (and counting) in this dataset have been determined to be stars. That is 10 times the number of any previous study. 173 million celestial objects in total are represented in the image, based on data collected by ESO’s VISTA infrared survey telescope. 

Researchers hope to use this data to better understand the way our home galaxy evolved. 

Each star occupies a particular spot in this diagram at any moment during its lifetime,” explains Dante Minniti. “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.”

The image ESO has provided can be found here.

UPDATE: This image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution and is best appreciated using the zoom tool.


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