Science

Stunning new Milky Way portrait captures more than 3 billion stars

Stunning new Milky Way portrait captures more than 3 billion stars
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How many stars can you count when you look up in the clear night sky? Not nearly as many as the Dark Energy Camera in Chile. Scientists have published a study of part of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, which contains 3.32 billion celestial objects, including billions of stars.

The National Science Foundation’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) operates DECam as part of an observatory project in Chile. The new astronomical dataset is the second release from the Dark Energy Camera Plane Survey (DECaPS2). NOIRLab called it “arguably the largest such catalog ever assembled,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Casual viewers can enjoy NOIRLab’s smaller version of the survey this provides a comprehensive overview. Who likes to go into detail this web viewer Let’s dig deeper into the data.

This broad swath of the Milky Way contains billions of celestial objects as part of the Dark Energy Camera Plane Survey.

DECaPS2/DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/M. Zamani & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab)

The camera used optical and near-infrared wavelengths of light to detect stars, star-forming regions, and clouds of gas and dust. “Imagine a group photo of over 3 billion people and every single individual is recognizable,” said NSF’s Debra Fischer. “Astronomers will be poring over this detailed portrait of more than 3 billion stars in the Milky Way for decades to come.”

The survey looks at the disk of the Milky Way, which appears as a bright band along the image. It’s full of stars and dust. There’s so much of both that it can be difficult to figure out what’s happening. stars overlap. Dust hides stars. Careful data processing was required to clarify all of this.

“One of the main reasons for the success of DECaPS2 is that we simply pointed to a region with an exceptionally high density of stars and were careful to identify sources that appear almost on top of each other,” said a Harvard University graduate student Andreas SaydjariMain author of a Article about the survey published in Astrophysical Journal in this week.

Several billion stars might sound like a crazy number, but it’s just a small drop in the bucket. NASA estimates There are at least 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. The new survey covers only 6.5% of the night sky as seen from the southern hemisphere.

DECaPS2 was an epic, multi-year project consisting of 21,400 individual images and 10 terabytes of data. Description of NOIRLab fits the survey as a “gigantic astronomical data carpet”. We’ve never seen the Milky Way like this before. It’s beautiful and it’s humbling.

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