A team of astronomers at the German University has compiled a tremendous image of the Milky Way galaxy. The image contains 46 billion pixels, which makes it the most enormous astronomical photo ever captured to date. It’s the result of data gathered over a period of five years by astronomers at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.
The data was compiled from 268 individual views of the Milky Way galaxy, including some of the sun and the Earth. The view was attained after continuously capturing images over that five-year period with the help of telescopes located in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
In order to view the image in its most detailed format, you’ll need to use this online tool. “For five years, the astronomers from Bochum have been monitoring our Galaxy in the search of objects with variable brightness,” the team said in a statement. “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 now and then.”
Heading the team of astronomers at the German University, Professor Rolf Chini from the astrophysics department had the herculean task of assembling 268 sections of different images. Chini arranged these images in a flawless manner and ended up with a breathtaking, comprehensive image of our galaxy. Even after assembling the image, it took another seven weeks to create a 194GB file, which contained different angles of the image paired with a variety of filters.
“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,” the group said in the statement.
The online tool for viewing the main image lets you dig in deep to view specific sections. Not only that, but the university has made the image “searchable,” which means you can search for specific information about any space object present in the Milky Way. For example, if you type “R Leporis,” the tool will take you to the respective star in the image. It’s an exciting piece of work by Rolf Chini and his team for other reasons: The compiled image shows more than 50,000 variable-brightness stars present in the Milky Way, that have never been recorded in the history of space science.
Image credit: Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB