Space photo

Take it all in: This is one of the best views of our Milky Way galaxy ever created, with more than a billion stars and celestial objects contained in a single image from European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite.

It pinpoints the precise position and brightness of 1142 million stars, a step toward creating a detailed 3D map of the Milky Way. The curves and darker stripes are artifacts from Gaia’s scanning procedure. A cleaner view will come to light as the satellite moves through its five-year mission.

“Today’s release gives us a first impression of the extraordinary data that await us and that will revolutionise our understanding of how stars are distributed and move across our Galaxy,” Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science said in the ESA press release.

You can also see a version with annotations of major galactic objects here.