Touring the Milky Way now is as easy as clicking a button, with NASA’s new zoomable, 360-degree mosaic.
The star-studded panorama of our galaxy is constructed from more than 2 million infrared snapshots taken over the past 10 years by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Shown above are three slices from the mosaic.
“If we actually printed this out, we’d need a billboard as big as [a] stadium to display it,” said Robert Hurt, an imaging specialist at NASA’s Spitzer Space Science Center in Pasadena, California. “Instead, we’ve created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use.”
The 20-gigapixel mosaic captures about 3 percent of the sky, but because it focuses on a band around Earth where the plane of the Milky Way lies, it shows more than half of all the galaxy’s stars.
The image, derived primarily from the Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire project, or GLIMPSE, is online at http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/glimpse360.
For more on Spitzer and the GLIMPSE360 project, see this NASA press release.