340 Million Pixels of GigaGalaxy Zoom

Last week the GigaGalaxy Zoom project introduced an interactive 360-degree panorama of the entire night sky, and they promised more zoomable images to come. The second of three images is now available, and it is a wonderful 340-million-pixel vista of the central parts of our galactic home. Taken by Stéphane Guisard, an ESO engineer and world-renowned astrophotographer, the image shows the region spanning the sky from the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer) to Scorpius (the Scorpion). This mosaic was assembled from 52 different sky fields made from about 1200 individual images totalling 200 hours exposure time, with the final image having a size of 24,403 x 13,973 pixels. Click on the image to get access to larger versions of the image. Jump right in and enjoy the views!

Guisard compiled this amazing mosaic from image taken at Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope. This second image directly benefits from the quality of Paranal’s sky, one of the best on the planet. The image was obtained by observing with a 10-cm Takahashi FSQ106Ed f/3.6 telescope and a SBIG STL CCD camera, using a NJP160 mount. Images were collected through three different filters (B, V and R) and then stitched together.

The very colourful Rho Ophiuchi and Antares region features prominently to the right, as well as much darker areas, such as the Pipe and Snake Nebulae. The dusty lane of our Milky Way runs through the image, dotted with remarkable bright, reddish nebulae, such as the Lagoon and the Trifid Nebulae, as well as NGC 6357 and NGC 6334. This dark lane also hosts the very centre of our Galaxy, where a supermassive black hole is lurking.

The GigaGalaxy Zoom project was create especially for the International Year of Astronomy.

Credit: ESO