Milky Way Panorama Is Clearest Picture Of Our Galaxy Ever Taken

Nasa just spent a decade producing the clearest picture of the Milky Way ever.

And here it is.

Nasa's Spitzer telescope made the incredible image by stitching together 2 million infrared pictures taken since the satellite's launch in 2003. The fully zoomable picture can be explored at will by users on Nasa's website, presenting a view of our galactic home unlike any other.

Presented as a fully zoomable, explorable picture, the view of the Milky Way is an astonishing look at the Galaxy from within its Western Spiral arm.

"If we actually printed this out, we'd need a billboard as big as the Rose Bowl Stadium to display it," said Robert Hurt, an imaging specialist at Nasa Spitzer Space Science Center.

"Instead, we've created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use."

Presented at the TED 2014 conference, the 20 gigapixel image actually captured only 3% of the sky - but that was enough to find almost half the Milky Way's stars.

Oddly enough, Nasa said the picture revealed the galaxy to be slightly larger than we previously thought, with a "bubble" structure that shows cavaties around very large stars where the solar wind and radiation is strong enough to blast away most surrounding material.

Nasa explained:

"Our galaxy is a flat spiral disk; our solar system sits in the outer one-third of the Milky Way, in one of its spiral arms. When we look toward the center of our galaxy, we see a crowded, dusty region jam-packed with stars. Visible-light telescopes cannot look as far into this region because the amount of dust increases with distance, blocking visible starlight. Infrared light, however, travels through the dust and allows Spitzer to view past the galaxy's center."

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