Using Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), a telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, astronomers have cataloged 84 million stars at the heart of the Milky Way. If that giant image of the Milky Way is printed at “normal resolution”, it would measure 9 x 7 meters.
VISTA snapped thousands of infrared images. Later the thousands of infrared images were combined to generate a monumental color mosaic measuring 108,200 by 81,500 pixels. According to researchers, the zoomable image is so large that it would measure 30 feet long by 23 feet tall (9 by 7 meters) if printed with the resolution of a typical book. No doubt, it is one of the biggest astronomical images ever produced.
However, the catalog contains 10 times more stars than previous studies have provided. Analyzing the new image, astronomers have identified 173 million different objects in the 9-billion-pixel image, of which 84 million are stars. The rest objects are distant objects like galaxies.
Dante Minniti of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Universidad de Valparaíso and The Milky Way Millennium Nucleus said, “Each star occupies a particular spot in this diagram at any moment during its lifetime. Where it falls depends on how bright it is and how hot it is. Since the new data gives us a snapshot of all the stars in one go, we can now make a census of all the stars in this part of the Milky Way.”
It is believed that the 9-billion-pixel image will help astronomers better understand the structure and evolution of our home galaxy.
Roberto Saito, said in a statement, “By observing in detail the myriads of stars surrounding the center of the Milky Way we can learn a lot more about the formation and evolution of not only our galaxy, but also spiral galaxies in general.”
The journal Astronomy & Astrophysics published the data in the August. But the astronomers are making their data publicly available so that other researchers can use it to make exciting finds of their own.
Source : Fox News