Scientists image billion stars of Milky Way in detail

 A picture combining infra-red light images reveals more than a billion stars of the Milky Way in detail for the very first time.

Large structures of the Milky Way galaxy, such as gas and dust clouds where stars have formed and died, can be seen in the image.

The picture is part of a 10-year project involving scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge and Chile, who gathered data from the two telescopes in northern and southern hemispheres.

Nick Cross, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “This incredible image gives us a new perspective of our galaxy, and illustrates the far-reaching discoveries we can make from large sky surveys.” Archived information from the project - known as the VISTA Data Flow System - is expected to enable scientists to carry out groundbreaking research in future years, according to a university statement.

The image shows the plane of the Milky Way galaxy, which is often described as looking like two fried eggs back-to-back, with a flat disc in the middle. Earth is close to the edge of this disc, and the image shows a cross-section through the disc as seen from Earth’s perspective.

These findings were presented at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester UK Thursday.

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