Billions of celestial objects revealed in huge survey of the Milky Way #Space @CenterForAstro

A new astronomical survey is a portrait of gargantuan proportions. It shows the staggering number of stars bristling among the wispy bands of dust in our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The heart of our galaxy — the central bulge of bright blue stars that also contains the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* — is at the left side of this panorama.

This galactic panorama was captured by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) instrument on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO). CTIO is a constellation of international astronomical telescopes perched atop Cerro Tololo in Chile at an altitude of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet). CTIO’s lofty vantage point gives astronomers an unrivaled view of the southern celestial hemisphere, which allowed DECam to capture the southern Galactic plane in such detail.

The first trove of data from DECaPS was released in 2017. With the addition of the new data, the survey now covers 6.5 percent of the night sky and spans a staggering 130-degrees in length. While it might sound modest, this equates to 13,000 times the angular area of the full Moon.

Gathering the data required to cover this much of the night sky was a Herculean task; the DECaPS2 survey identified 3.32 billion objects from over 21,400 individual exposures. Its two-year run, which involved about 260 hours of observations, produced more than 10 terabytes of data.

Read more in this article from the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

See the images here.

 


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