Far out: A spectacular snap of one billion stars in the Milky Way, which took astronomers 10 years to create

  • Scientists produced the picture by combining infra-red light images from two telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres
  • The archived information known as the Vista Data Flow System, will allow scientists to carry out future research without generating further data
 

By Jill Reilly

PUBLISHED: 18:02 EST, 28 March 2012 | UPDATED: 20:10 EST, 28 March 2012

Ten years of patience and star-gazing by astronomers has finally culminated in this incredible image showcasing around one billion stars in the Milky Way.

It was produced by scientists who combined infra-red light images from two telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Astronomers from the UK and Chile gathered the data which was then processed and archived by teams at the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge. Star-filled sky: Around one billion stars in the Milky Way can be seen together for the first time in an image captured over a decade by astronomers

Star-filled sky: This incredible image, shows in detail, the star forming area in the Milky Way. Scientists produced the picture by combining infra-red light images from two telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres

 

They have now made it available to studies around the world and hope it will change the way scientists carry out future research.

Dr Nick Cross, of the University of Edinburgh’s school of physics and astronomy, said: ‘This incredible image gives us a new perspective of our galaxy and illustrates the far-reaching discoveries we can make from large sky surveys.

 

‘Having data processed, archived and published by dedicated teams leaves other scientists free to concentrate on using the data and is a very cost-effective way to do astronomy.’

Dr Cross said the archived information on the billions of stars, known as the Vista Data Flow System, will allow scientists to carry out research in future without needing to generate further data.

 
Zoomed out: Astronomers from the UK and Chile gathered the data which was then processed and archived by teams at the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge who, in turn, have made it available to studies around the world

Zoomed out: Astronomers from the UK and Chile gathered the data which was then processed and archived by teams at the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge who, in turn, have made it available to studies around the world

As well as being published online the image is being presented at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester today and shows the plane of the Milky Way galaxy from Earth’s perspective.

It combines data from the UK Infrared Telescope in Hawaii and the Vista telescope in Chile.

Astronomers used infra-red radiation instead of visible light to enable them to see through much of the dust in the Milky Way and record details of the centre of the galaxy.

The work was supported by government body the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

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