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ScienceSpace

NASA Space Telescope Captures ‘Clearest Glimpse’ Of Our Milky Way Galaxy Ever Produced [VIDEO]

640px-Milky_Way_IR_Spitzer

GLIMPSE360 – It was a decade in the making…over 2.5 million “snapshots” collected over a total of 172 observation days…it’s The Milky Way Galaxy like you’ve never seen it before, courtesy of the astronomical science teams at JPL and Cal Tech and the mighty imaging power (20 gigapixels) of the Spitzer Space Telescope.

The GLIMPSE (Galactic Legacy Mid Plane Survey Extraordinaire) 360 project is being described as the “clearest infra-red panorama of our galactic home” ever produced and the first time an “entire data set [of the galaxy] has been carefully stitched into a single image.”

Our Milky Way galaxy is essentially a flat disc (with a massive bulge in its middle) in the shape of a 4-armed spiral (with a dense “bar” of stellar masses running through its center region). Most all of the stars that we can observe from our Earthly view point are within 1000 light years from us. But our galaxy is over 100,000 light years across. This means that we can’t see (unaided) even a sizable percentage of stars in our galaxy.

But now, thanks to Spitzer, we are able to view the galactic disc “on edge”; the panorama covers just 3% of the sky but captures over 50% of the stars in our Milky Way — and 90% of its star-forming regions! This is due to the fact that most of the stars in our galaxy fall within a relatively narrow strip of space. This narrow strip is captured in this amazing interactive panorama which captures “everything” from the “brilliant core of the Milky Way to its outer edge.”

You read right: the new panorama is interactive — permitting anyone to zoom in and out on any section of the panorama at enormous scale differences. The website (http://spitzer.caltech.edu/glimpse360) provides a digital viewer to facilitate scalar viewing of the panorama.

The Spitzer panorama has utility beyond aiding current galactic analysis; it will serve as a preparatory “star map” to guide the planned James Webb Space Telescope (formerly known as the Next Generation Space Telescope, an international collaboration to be launched by 2018, or sooner) as it seeks out more detailed views of key star-forming regions.

For a quick galactic viewing, check out this awesome video of the GLIMPSE360 panorama (note: stars are colored blue {short wavelengths}, dust clouds/nebulae are colored red {long wavelengths}:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAtnBzDZvsk]

Top Image: (NASA) A false-color infrared image of the core of the Milky Way Galaxy taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Older cool stars are blue, dust features lit up by large hot stars are shown in a reddish hue, and the bright white spot in the middle marks the site of Sagittarius A*, the super-massive black hole at the center of the Galaxy.




4 comments
  1. Peter Ateo

    [sigh] Beautiful! Time to stop procrastinating and just buy that 10″ Dobsonian telescope I’ve been staring at online.

  2. Peter Ateo

    [sigh] Beautiful! Time to stop procrastinating and just buy that 10″ Dobsonian telescope I’ve been staring at online.

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