Explore 3 billion celestial objects in the study of the Milky Way

Explore 3 billion celestial objects in the study of the Milky Way

A new survey of the Milky Way has been published containing more than 3 billion objects, making it one of the largest astronomical catalogs ever produced. The second release of data from the Dark Energy Camera Plane Survey, or DECaPS2, focuses on the galactic plane, which is the view looking through the galaxy’s disk in which most of the stars lie and covers the 6, 5% of the night sky.

The data set is available for astronomers to use in their research, but it is also available for the public to view online in a web browser. The legacy survey viewer displays a variety of different survey images – you can select DECaPS2 images in the box on the top right to see the new data and zoom in and out using the slider on the top left.

The galactic plane of the Milky Way.
Astronomers have published a gigantic study of the galactic plane of the Milky Way. The new data set contains a staggering 3.32 billion celestial objects, possibly the largest catalog yet. The data for this unprecedented study was taken with the Dark Energy Camera manufactured by the US Department of Energy at the NSF Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, a program of NOIRLab. The survey is reproduced here in 4000 pixel resolution to make it accessible on smaller devices. DECaPS2/DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA Image processing: M. Zamani & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab)

The galactic plane is difficult to photograph because there are many stars, which can overlap when viewed from Earth, and because there is a lot of dust, which can be seen as dark eddies in the above image and can obscure the stars behind it. . So the survey looked at near-infrared wavelengths that can peer through the dust to get a better view, to build a 3D view of the galaxy.

“One of the main reasons for the success of DECaPS2 is that we simply targeted a region with an extraordinarily high density of stars and were careful to identify the sources that appear almost on top of each other,” said the lead author of a paper on the study. survey, Andrew Saydjari of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, in a statement. “Doing so allowed us to produce the largest catalog of its kind with a single camera, in terms of the number of objects observed.”

The total number of visible objects in the data set is 3.32 billion and is the result of 10 terabytes of data from 21,400 individual exposures taken with the dark energy camera in Chile.

“This is quite a technical feat. Imagine a group photo of over three billion people and each individual is recognizable!” said Debra Fischer of the National Science Foundation, which funded the Dark Energy Chamber. “Astronomers will carefully study this detailed portrait of more than three billion stars in the Milky Way for decades to come. This is a fantastic example of what partnerships between federal agencies can accomplish.”

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