Dive Right Into the Largest Ever Image of Our Galaxy's Centre

Illustration for article titled Dive Right Into the Largest Ever Image of Our Galaxys Centre

You are looking at more than 84 million stars, the largest ever catalogue of the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Astronomers at the Paranal Observatory in Cerro Paranal, Chile, stitched the 9 gigapixels of the original image from thousands of individual infrared pictures.You can see the full, zoomable version here.


It contains more than 10 times as many stars as previous catalogues and should help astronomers learn more about the central bulge of stars at the heart of the Milky Way. Plotting the colour of each star against its brightness allows astronomers to create a census of stars, revealing more about the structure and content of our galactic centre.

The team have already spotted a large number of faint red dwarf stars, which are known to be a good place to look for exoplanets.


Image by Ignacio Toledo/ESO/VVV Consortium

Illustration for article titled Dive Right Into the Largest Ever Image of Our Galaxys Centre

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Astronomy is really the last pure science we have as it is not driven by short-term profit motives...which explains why we could score a scope like this ETX-90 EC on Craigslist for $70! http://www.rainydaymagazine.com/RDM2012/Home/October/Week3/RDMHomeOct1612.htm#MeadeETX90EC_FirstLook

Sure there are dreams of mining a diamond planet or extracting minerals from asteroids, but they are still fantasies at present. While there is minimal financial upside, there is also no government restrictions (other than what not to do with a green laser pointer).

Try setting up a genetics or chemistry lab at home and see how long it would be before Homeland Security or the DEA come knocking at your doors. Don't even get us started about the number of permits required for a building a home version of a high energy particle accelerator.

Looking through a telescope at 3AM will probably not lead to finding a cure for cancer or help one predict the next hot stock, but it will expand ones appreciation of the vastness and beauty of the universe...all from ones own backyard. And that is a worthy endeavor at any price.