Largest Picture of the Milky Way Unveiled

The Milky Way is a large place, and getting all the stars together, even from just the inner galaxy, for a family photo requires a big canvas. The imaging team from the Spitzer Space Telescope today unveiled the largest, highest resolution infrared picture ever taken of the Milky Way. The photo spans 55 meters (180 feet), and takes up almost one entire wall in the huge exhibit hall here at the AAS meeting in St. Louis (above.) The image is made of 800,000 snapshots taken by Spitzer, amassing 39,000 X 6000 pixels, and shows an area of sky 120 degrees longitude by 2 degrees latitude. It provides 100 times better angular resolution than any previous survey and is 100 times more sensitive. There’s also an online version….

This “chops” up the image into five strips, and certainly isn’t as impressive as the 55 meter version! However, there’s another, more spectacular way to view this spectacular image. The GLIMPSE (Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire) Image Viewer provides a great way to view and browse this image. The viewer boasts the following tagline: “One spacecraft, 5 infrared bands, 800,000 images, 4 billion pixels of data.” It lets you scan the image with both the IRAC (Infrared Array Camera) on Spitzer, or the MIPS (Multiband Imaging Photometer.)

15 Replies to “Largest Picture of the Milky Way Unveiled”

  1. Somewhere on there, somebody should draw a little arrow pointing to a single pixel with a caption that says “You are here”.

  2. Well, technically, we’re nowhere on that picture, given that the entire picture was taken from Earth’s vantage point.

  3. It’s a nice poster that is linked to, but it mislabels the longitude axis as ‘latitude’. There are two latitude axes!

  4. Reminds me of various radio maps starting with metrewavelengths pioneered by Glyn Haslam & his NODDY! Cherio Glyn, wherever & however you are!!

  5. Please tell me they haven’t ‘sold out’ by putting the Chevrolet emblem in the middle of this composite picture????!!!!

  6. When interstellar exploration wraps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything. The IBM Stellarsphere. The Microsoft Galaxy. Planet Starbucks.

  7. A reminder of how insignificant we are in this universe. Especially when you think of how many gallaxies like this there are, and the space between them.

  8. OK fellow Trekkers now is our chance!

    Where do we put the Alpha quadrant?

    And we need to mark Rommulan space as well,
    not to mention where those pesky Borg are.

  9. Can anybody help ?
    I found a site which shows pictures
    fx like a pic of Mercur and the Earth is double
    pic of Earth and a new planet which is twice the siize etc etc etc
    Very fun … bit do any know the name of the site ???

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