Vivid vista shines light on Galactic Centre

The latest vista from ESO’s GigaGalaxy Zoom project homes in on the central parts of our Milky Way Galaxy. Click for link to high resolution image. Image: ESO/S Guisard.

Posted: September 21, 2009

The European Southern Observatory has today released the second of three new breath-taking portraits showing the Milky Way in unprecedented detail.

The 34 by 20 degree wide, 340-million pixel offering was taken from ESO’s Very Large Telescope location at Paranal by world-renowned astrophotographer Stephane Guisard. Approximately 1,200 images totally more than 200 hours exposure time and collected over 29 nights went into creating this remarkable true-colour mosaic of the Galactic Centre.

“The area I have depicted in this image is an incredibly rich region of the sky, and the one I find most beautiful,” says Guisard.

The image spans the region of sky from the constellation of Sagittarius to Scorpius. The very bright and colourful feature towards the right of the image are the Rho Ophiuchi and Antares regions. Darker areas such as the Pipe and Snake nebulae also stand out.

The dusty lane of our Milky Way runs obliquely through the image, punctuated with bright, reddish nebulae including the Lagoon and the Trifid nebulae. A supermassive black hole also lurks within the dark lane, at the very centre of our Galaxy.

This spectacular starscape is the second of three extremely high resolution images featured in the GigaGalaxy Zoom project, launched by ESO as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The first image was a magnificent 800-million-pixel panorama of the entire sky. The third GigaGalaxy Zoom image will be revealed next week.

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