ATLASGAL Survey of the Milky Way Galaxy Reveals New, Spectacular Views (VIDEO)

First Posted: Feb 24, 2016 08:19 AM EST

Researchers have officially completed a survey of the Milky Way galaxy. The ATLASGAL survey is now providing researchers a detailed view of the distribution of cold dense gas along the plane of the Milky Way galaxy.

The new ATLASGAL maps cover an area of sky 140 degrees long and 3 degrees wide. That's more than four times larger than the first ATLASGAL release. The new maps are also of higher quality, as some areas were re-observed to obtain a more uniform data quality over the whole survey area.

The ATLASGAL survey is the single most successful APEX large program with nearly 70 associated science papers already published, and its legacy will expand much further with all the reduced data products now available to the full astronomical community.

"ATLASGAL provides exciting insights into where the next generation of high-mass stars and clusters form," said Timea Csengeri, one of the researchers, in a news release. "By combining these with observations from Planck, we can now obtain a link to the large-scale structures of giant molecular clouds."

The new map is giving researchers a transformational look at the dense interstellar medium of the Milky Way galaxy. This opens up the possibilities of new discoveries as scientists mine the dataset for more clues about our own galaxy. Currently, scientists are already using the ATLASGAL data to plan for a detailed ALMA follow-up.

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