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A massive image of the Milky Way revealed billions of celestial bodies

A massive image of the Milky Way revealed billions of celestial bodies
A new map of the Milky Way revealed, in a giant image, 3.32 billion celestial bodies. In addition to being beautiful, it is the largest catalog of its kind ever. Photo: NOIRLab

It contains the Milky Way Hundreds of billions of stars And Huge dark clouds of dust and gas. Imagining these objects and cataloging them for study is a near impossible task, but a recently released astronomical dataset has been able to map a portion of these objects using Unprecedented detail.

survey known as According to the Dark Energy Camera Plane Survey (DECaPS2), through a tool created by Department of Energy we It is located in Cerro Tololo Observatory between AmericaIn the Chile.

led investigation NOIRLabdelay Two years to complete and produced more than 10 terabytes of data in 21,400 galleries An individual. The specified voltage is approx. 3.32 billion objectsIt is arguably the largest catalog of its kind ever.

Most of the stars and dust in the Milky Way is on your disk The bright band that runs across the image. Although such a huge amount of things produce Nice picturesalso makes galactic level observation a Enormous challenge.

The dark dust spots shown in the photo absorb starlight And completely erase the weakest. Light from diffuse nebulae interferes with any attempt at measurement the brightness of individual objects. In addition to, Stars can overlap in the photo and makes it difficult to separate.

So astronomers had to use it different wavelengthssuch as near infrared, in addition to a specific data processing Which allows you to better predict the background behind each star. This helped mitigate the effects of crowded nebulae and starfields, ensuring that the final catalog would be just as well as accurately as possible.

A massive image of the Milky Way revealed billions of celestial bodies
Zooming in shows the huge amount of objects that can be observed in the catalog. One of the reasons for DECaPS2’s success was to process the data in a way that would make it more accurate. Photo: NOIRLab

When combined with previous photos from Pan-STARRS 1the Decaps 2 completion 360 degree panoramic view from the disk of the Milky Way And it still reaches for fainter stars. It is even possible to map a file 3D structure of the galaxyWith an unprecedented level of detail.

“It’s a huge technical feat. Imagine taking a picture of 3 billion people, where every individual is still recognizable!” – Debra Fisher, NSF.

The DECaPS2 dataset is Available freely to the entire scientific community And he hosts it Astro Datalab from NOIRLabwhich is part of Society Science and Data CenterVerse.

This means that astronomers are going to go up and use this detailed image of the Milky Way. For decades of studies and investigations. This is a great example of what government agency partnerships can achieve world science.

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