In creating a zoomable, 360-degree portrait of the Milk Way galaxy, University of Wisconsin scientists have offered new insight into the structure and contents of the spiral star system.
To create the holistic portrait, Wisconsin astronomers pieced together 2 million cosmic images collected by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The team unveiled their impressive galactic collage today at a TED conference in Vancouver.
"For the first time, we can actually measure the large-scale structure of the galaxy using stars rather than gas," astronomer Edward Churchwell said.
"We’ve established beyond the shadow of a doubt that our galaxy has a large bar structure that extends halfway out to the sun’s orbit," he added. "We know more about where the Milky Way’s spiral arms are."