Astronomers have today (3/27/2012) released a picture containing more than one billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The full image contains 150 billion pixels and combines data from two near-infrared telescopes – the UK Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii and the VISTA telescope in Chile – and is the result of a decade-long collaboration by astronomers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge.
The sheer enormity and detail of the original mosaic is mind numbing. Even more, the fact that it is just one slice of the sky, one edge-on view of one galaxy (ours) in a universe of countless galaxies, it sure makes you feel entirely insignificant.
Before browsing the interactive image, bear this in mind…
Hold on tight because you’re not standing still…
We are standing on a planet that is revolving at 900 miles an hour, orbiting the sun at 19 miles a second, all of which is in the spiral arm of the Milky Way moving at 40,000 miles an hour!
Our galaxy contains 100 billion stars, it’s 100,000 light years from side to side, it bulges 16,000 light years in the middle, we are located 30,000 light years from the center, and we go around it every 200 million years.
I warn you, the interactive map is addicting. It also reaffirms the unknown out there in space, the energy, and our vulnerability as we float around the cosmic universe.
One Billion Stars Image Of Milky Way Galaxy