Nasa has unveiled an astounding new image of our galactic neighbourhood - a new star atlas for the entire universe.
The atlas includes a catalogue of the entire infrared sky, over half a billion stars, galaxies and more captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.
Edward Wright, WISE principal investigator at UCLA, said: "Today, WISE delivers the fruit of 14 years of effort to the astronomical community." Wright began working on the WISE mission in 1998.
Made up of more than 2.7 million images taken at four infrared wavelengths of light, the new image captures everything from nearby asteroids to distant galaxies.
CLICK "FULLSCREEN" BELOW TO SEE THE WHOLE IMAGE
The WISE catalogue of images covers the entire sky, and this immense image, shown below at the largest size our system can handle, took more than a decade of work.
WISE has discovered the coolest stars called Y-dwarfs, found more than 90 percent of the largest near-Earth asteroids, the first known "Trojan" asteroid to share the same orbital path around the sun as Earth and echoes of infrared light surrounding an exploded star.
Roc Cutri, who leads the WISE data processing and archiving effort at the Infrared and Processing Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said: "With the release of the all-sky catalog and atlas, WISE joins the pantheon of great sky surveys that have led to many remarkable discoveries about the universe. It will be exciting and rewarding to see the innovative ways the science and educational communities will use WISE in their studies now that they have the data at their fingertips."
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