Astronomers have compiled a gigantic (and absolutely breathtaking) new picture of the Milky Way that reveals the hidden gas and dust that fills our galaxy.
These particles are the building blocks of the universe and can only be detected at submillimetre wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves.
The image is the single most comprehensive image of the Milky Way taken from the Southern Hemisphere and reveal objects that are only a few degrees above absolute zero.
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Covering an area of sky 140 degrees along, the image was captured using the APEX telescope in Chile. Located 5100m above sea level the telescope is able to use its 295 sensors to measure astonishingly small rises in temperature over huge distances.
The resulting image provides a previously unseen side of the galaxy which had been hidden by the stars that currently dominate our view of the night sky.
The pictures should hopefully reveal more to astronomers about how these huge swirling clouds of gas are then formed into stars and eventually planets or moons.
This current image is four times more detailed than the previous attempt and has already contributed to over 70 published pieces of research on our galaxy.
What makes the image even more impressive is that it was captured using what is essentially a prototype array. APEX was designed as an experimental testbed for the much larger and more complex Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array which doesn't use just one telescope, but 66, spread over 16km. It's the single largest project of its kind in the world.
Below you can see the APEX's view of the galaxy compared to other wavelengths, revealing a side to our galaxy far more complex than our own eyes could ever reveal.