Saturday, June 7, 2008

Explore the largest image of the Milky Way through GLIMPSE

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GLIMPSE (Galactic Legacy Infrared Midplane Extraordinaire) is a survey of the inner part of the Milky Way Galaxy in which we reside. GLIMPSE provides us a view of the Milky Way in a way you have never seen it before. It's like Google Earth for the Milky Way. The images that GLIMPSE use come from instrument on board the Spitzer Space Telescope, one of NASA’s four “Great Observatories”. The telescope was pointed to 111,000 different positions in the sky and snapshots were taken in four different infrared wavelengths, creating a total of 444,000 images. The MIPSGAL survey followed up using the MIPS instrument with another 400,000 images at three longer infrared wavelengths. From all this data two images have been created that you can explore on GLIMPSE: the IRAC image, and the IRAC/MIPS image. If printed, each would be about 180 feet long! The GLIMPSE is actually a 180 feet long image of the Milky Way, the largest ever!

Milky Way


The surveys from which these images come has 100 times the sensitivity and over 10 times the resolution of previous surveys, allowing us to see stars and dusty objects throughout most of the Galaxy for the first time. The clarity of these images are awesome.

Milky Way


You can view the image with both the IRAC (Infrared Array Camera) on Spitzer, or the MIPS (Multiband Imaging Photometer.) This is done by moving a slider at the bottom-left which changes the wavelength of the image revealing various structures in the galaxy which are otherwise invisible.

The "map" of the Milky Way is marked at important locations like a nebula, or a supernova. The images are so detailed you could almost see the individual stars.

You can download this 180 feet long, 5 billion pixel image if you want. The image is available for download in 16 blocks.

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