Our galaxy is definitely the star of the world’s largest picture ever made, when 46 billion pixels cloud together to let the milky way shine.
In case you were wondering how much do 46 billion pixels mean, well, they mean a 194 GB file. And it’s a picture. A single picture, of the gracious Milky Way. The picture took five years to make, as it needed an immense amount of data to be put in it. Astronomers needed to gather all that data before they could make the actual deep space picture and release it to the public.
The stunning photograph is the work of astronomers at the Ruhr University Bochum, in Germany, led by Rolf Chini. They used a series of different ways to get all the tiny pictures and information they needed to create the mosaic. They have been giving their attention to cosmic bodies in the Milky Way with varying brightness. This was a possibility that they could be exoplanets transiting their host star.
Also, the German researchers gathered pictures of cosmic bodies of medium brightness while they were trying to capture images of the southern night sky.
As a third source of information, they used telescopes belonging to the observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile. In this manner they recorded more than 50 000 new variable cosmic materials, which they recorded and then used for the giant compilation that is the Milky Way.
Because of the fact that this was a massive job, all the study was divided up into 268 sections. They tried to snap an image for every single region, all in the span of two days. Exactly like a giant puzzle, when they had all the pieces, meaning all the pictures they had taken of different celestial bodies with different degrees of brightness, they started assembling the images per every region.
Once those parts were completed, they used them as pieces of a bigger puzzle out of which they constructed the actual image we can see now of our beautiful galaxy. They also used filters to compile the images into one single file. It was so huge, that it took two whole weeks to compute.
Also, in order to help us navigate the galaxy better, the German team uploaded on their website a tool we can use to either view the Milky Way galaxy as a whole or to zoom in on different regions or celestial bodies and see them up close and personal.
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