A view of the Milky Way like you've never seen before

Here's a view of the Milky Way galaxy like you've never seen before.

The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope in Chile (APEX for short) captured this super-panoramic image of our home galaxy, mapping the full view of the galactic plane as seen from the Southern Hemisphere in unprecedented detail.

The 40-foot telescope views the sky in sub-millimeter wavelengths, which are between infrared light and radio waves and are invisible to the eye. That allows astronomers to observe the coldest regions of the universe, where gas and dust are only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero, as well as the regions where stars are born.

In the image, the APEX telescope's observations appear in red, with some data from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite in fainter red. The blue parts of the image show shorter infrared light captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

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The European Southern Observatory released the map to celebrate the completion of the APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy project. The image spans an area of sky 140 degrees long by 3 degrees wide — four times larger than the project’s first map.

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