The Milky Way as You've Never Seen it Before
There are a bundle of different ways you can waste your day away this Monday morning. You can read the millions of Oscars recaps, re-watch Narcos for the third time, veg out on Vine for a few hours. Or, you could take eight minutes to bask in the beauty of the glittery, gossamer nebula we call home.
The European Southern Observatory’s APEX telescope in Chile has just created a new map of our galaxy, which the Observatory calls the ATLASGAL. It might sound like the name of your new favorite Instagram artist, but it actually stands for APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy, and it offers us an image of the Milky Way as we’ve never seen it before.
“We can for the first time get a full census of the star-forming regions within our own galaxy,” says astronomer Carlos De Breuck. These regions were previously almost invisible to us, dim and obscured by dust. However, they shine brightly on the millimeter and sub-millimeter parts of the light spectrum. These images are the first of their kind to pick up those tiny light wavelengths, and offer the most detailed and comprehensive, and not to mention the most frickin magical view of our galaxy to date.
The red in this map of the Milky Way represents the data collected by the APEX telescope. The other stuff, the blue and the fainter red, represent information already gathered from other telescopes and satellites. But what are these images of exactly? They’re mostly just expanses of freezing cold clouds of gases and dust, where new stars are born. Sounds a lot like New York, actually, except maybe fewer pizza rats.
These incredible maps signal a new era in the way we see the universe. The future, like the sky, looks bright for astronomers and stargazers everywhere.
Stay tuned to Milk for more celestial news.
Images via CNN and Space.com.