Celebrating the four centuries of astronomical advancement since Galileo took his first telescopic view of the heavens, NASA today unveiled this unique view of the heart of our galaxy as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The 6-foot-by-3-foot prints were unveiled at more than 150 planetariums, museums, libraries, and centers of learning across the land, and man, is it ever a view.
The composite image was stitched together from three separate images captured by some of astronomy’s most advanced tools: a near-infrared image from Hubble, an infrared image from Spitzer and an X-ray view from the Chandra Observatory. Each of these images is itself a composite, a mosaic of sweeping surveys of the galaxy beyond our solar system.
The result: a view of the Milky Way from an amazing perspective that includes vibrant regions of star birth, the supermassive black hole that hubs our galaxy and hazy blue X-ray light from super-hot gasses leftover from stellar explosions. Makes you feel kind of small, doesn’t it?
Check out the annotated version below, or click here to download your own hi-res images.