Largest Space Image: Milky Way Photo With 46 Billion Pixels

First Posted: Oct 21, 2015 01:48 PM EDT

Astronomers recently created a photo of the Milky Way comprised of 46 billion pixels, making it one of the largest astronomical images to date, according to a news release.

The image contains astronomical observations that have been gathered over a span of five years. Researchers at Ruhr-Universitat Bochum in Germany have been monitoring the galaxy for five years in hope of detecting objects with variable brightness, such as stars in front of a passing planet or multiple systems where stars orbit each other, according to a news release.

The team of researchers, headed by Dr. Rolf Chini from the Chair of Astrophysics, created an online tool to view the complete image. The researchers used telescopes at Bochum's university observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile, and took pictures of the southern night sky night after night. The researchers discovered over 50,000 new objects with varying levels of brightness. 

The area that was observed was so large that the researchers subdivided it into 268 individual sections. These images were then compiled to create a single photo of the Milky Way.

Through the use of the online tool that the researchers created, people can view the complete Milky Way image at a glance, or they can zoom in to examine various areas, according to the researchers. 

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