A new ESO survey of the Milky Way has produced a remarkable set of images, featuring greater detail than ever before.
Space pictures tend to get the Siliconrepublic.com team in a bit of a tizz, and today is no different.
The latest images to tickle our fancy come all the way from Chile, where the ESO has been tracking the Milky Way, in impressive definition.
The ATLASGAL project, which produced a batch of stunning images, uses the APEX telescope in Chile to map the full galactic plane visible from the southern hemisphere.
The fact it’s main image (top) is at what’s called “sub-millimetre wavelengths” means this is a first. Sub-millimetre wavelengths lie in between infrared light and radio waves, with the fine detail in the following images of particular importance.
The total mapped region covers an area of sky 140º long and 3º wide, far outstripping previous ATLASGAL projects.
Most of the star formations in the southern Milky Way are included, with the imagery providing a detailed view of the distribution of cold dense gas along the plane of the Milky Way galaxy.
APEX does something unique, peering into the cold universe and recording gas and dust only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. With help from the ESA’s Planck satellite, the ESO could, therefore, create composites of immense beauty, through various views.
The image above is of the exact same region, observed at different wavelengths. The top is compact sources of submillimetre radiation.
The second is seen through infrared wavelengths, the third through even shorter wavelengths and the final image the more traditional showing ‘in visible light’, as ESO says.
To be honest, the images we include here don’t do the work any justice. For that click here, where you can zoom right in on individual stars.
If you prefer the composite of four, again zoomable, click here.