So literally seconds after I had finished writing a follow-up comment to the post below this one (in which I talked about how, under the right conditions, you can see the cloud of the Milky Way from Earth) I bumped into this picture (yes, that’s real). But this picture isn’t the story – the real story is that the folks over at GLIMPSE (Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire) have used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (Hubble’s infrared brother) to create a 5 gigapixel image of the entire Milky Way galaxy – the largest in history.
What does 5 gigapixels translate to? If you wanted to view it without any scaling artifacts, you’d need a monitor with a native resolution of 400,000 x 13,000. Yes, that’s bigger than your iPhone. In fact, an iPhone with a native res that high would look something like this:
The GLIMPSE survey covered a 130 degree portion of the sky and took over 800,000 individual infrared pictures, which were then stitched together to create the behemoth composite. A 180×2.75 foot print of the image was unveiled yesterday (June 3rd) at the American Astronomical Society meeting in St Louis (ok, road trip!! Let’s see who can eat the most Milky Way candy bars while en route).
Here’s what the entire image looks like at 4% of it’s full resolution (click to enlarge to 4.01%)
The resolution of the new image can now resolve clusters of stars where previously only a single blob of light existed. Sean Carey of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center said, “This picture shows us that our Milky Way galaxy is a crowded and dynamic place. We have a lot to learn. I’ve definitely found a lot of things in this map that I didn’t expect to see.”
Things he didn’t expect to see? Like what?? He didn’t offer any examples, so I downloaded the full, 5 gigapixel image and combed over every inch of it with our high-tech Battlestar computers… what I found was indeed unexpected:
Ah, our infinite universe – is there anything it can’t do? If you’d like to check out the hi res images yourself, click here to go to Spitzer Space Telescope’s newsroom. Even more information (and some stunning imagery) is available at the GLIMPSE home page right here.
Wait a second… what am I thinking? I know my audience. Click here for what you really want.