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One billion stars; billions and billions of pixels
June 11, 2012 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Want to see what a billion stars look like from the comfort of your chair?

The full image contains 150 billion pixels, and the detail it contains is only revealed by the three zoom levels, centred on G305, a large and complex star-formation region: the innermost zoom covers a tiny fraction of the full image, but still contains more than ten thousand stars. It combines data from two near-infrared1 telescopes – the UK Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii and the VISTA telescope in Chile - and is the result of a decade-long collaboration by astronomers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge.
posted by MartinWisse (29 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Because someone has to make this joke:

my god it's full of stars

....But seriously, this is quite cool (try going down past three zoom levels, too).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:39 AM on June 11, 2012


this is beautiful. Can anyone explain why some of the stars have little black dots at the center?
posted by rebent at 8:46 AM on June 11, 2012


As a WAG, those are probably just pixel/observation artifacts.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:47 AM on June 11, 2012


Those are invading forces but they are wicked far away so nbd.
posted by SharkParty at 8:52 AM on June 11, 2012


If it's just us...seems like an awful waste of space.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:56 AM on June 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


If only such beauty could result when I let my half-mortal bastard son nurse on my sleeping god-wife.
posted by griphus at 8:57 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


rebent: it's an artifact of the way the image is recorded without a shutter - the image you see is basically a difference between two images, and a really bright star will saturate the detector and hitting a maximum recorded brightness, so the values at the centre are the same both times. It's described someway down this page.
posted by edd at 8:59 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What are the darker veins?
posted by roboton666 at 9:00 AM on June 11, 2012


There are some other "zooms of the milky way" this one will show it to you in different EM spectra. Seeing it in Hydrogen Alpha is pretty crazy, you see the shells of all these ancient supernovas.
posted by delmoi at 9:00 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd click on the link, but as a sentient being one thing I cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 9:00 AM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


If it's the Milky Way, where is the little "YOU ARE HERE" label?
posted by ubiquity at 9:00 AM on June 11, 2012


If it's the Milky Way, where is the little "YOU ARE HERE" label?

It's taken from earth.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


roboton666: dust?
posted by edd at 9:03 AM on June 11, 2012


Can anyone explain why some of the stars have little black dots at the center?

Those are pupils.

Pointed at us.
posted by R. Schlock at 9:05 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


the innermost zoom covers a tiny fraction of the full image, but still contains more than ten thousand stars

Humbling. If that is true, then the concept of a billion of anything is even farther over my head than I had imagined.
posted by rahnefan at 9:09 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can anyone explain why some of the stars have little black dots at the center?

I dunno, but it's the same old thing as yesterday.
posted by dhartung at 9:10 AM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I only counted 999856491 of them! That's not so impressive!
posted by newfers at 9:14 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can anyone explain why some of the stars have little black dots at the center?

Black hole suns.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:17 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is astounding. Thank you!

What are the big green circles that are scattered around? Just some sort of ... lens flare? I know pretty much nothing about these things.
posted by AmandaA at 9:21 AM on June 11, 2012


"If it's just us...seems like an awful waste of space."

The universe is a McMansion?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:24 AM on June 11, 2012


AmandaA: I think those are the result of scattered light in the telescope. It might not be exactly the same as lens flare but it's the same kind of annoying thing caused by the optics that you don't really want to have happen but can't easily avoid.
posted by edd at 9:27 AM on June 11, 2012


I know images like this usually make people feel sort of small and insignificant on many levels but tbh it just makes me feel like prancing. SPACE!
posted by elizardbits at 9:31 AM on June 11, 2012


So much to explore!
posted by pyrex at 9:44 AM on June 11, 2012


Maybe we killed it? After it timed out on me, I tried getting a Coral Cache link going, but it keeps coming back with a 5xx status code.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:05 AM on June 11, 2012


Can anyone explain why some of the stars have little black dots at the center?

Chocolate filling.

If it's just us...seems like an awful waste of space.

Nature wastes. Nature is bountiful and senseless.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:51 AM on June 11, 2012


What really freaks me out is that there are seven times that many humans just farting around on this one planet.
posted by theodolite at 12:21 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nature wastes. Nature is bountiful and senseless.

I think that qualifies as a projection.
posted by Twang at 2:44 PM on June 11, 2012


I think that qualifies as a projection.

This may be a derail (along with my originating comment), but I'm curious. A projection of what onto what? 'Cause if you're meaning a projection of myself onto nature, it is emphatically the opposite.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:17 PM on June 11, 2012


What really freaks me out is that there are seven times that many humans just farting around on this one planet.
And how many billions of bacteria in each oh those human's guts? It's crazy just how narrow of a scale range we can really comprehend.
posted by aspo at 4:19 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


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