This 9-Gigapixel Image Of the Milky Way Shows 84 Million Stars

This 9-gigapixel image of the Milky Way reminds us just how small we truly are!

The image gives viewers an incredible, zoomable view of the central part of our galaxy. It is so large that, if printed with the resolution of a typical book, it would be 9 meters long and 7 meters tall.

You probably can’t even fathom how big the universe is until you observe an image showing a miniature, tiny, small, insignificant part of space, home to 84 million galaxies.

The central part of the Milky Way Galaxy showing 84 million stars. Image Credit: ESO.
The central part of the Milky Way Galaxy showing 84 million stars. Image Credit: ESO.

And yeah, that may sound as much. However, it’s only a small part of the stars and galaxies in the universe.

The jaw-dropping image published by the European South Observatory features 85 million stars and shows a view of the cosmos as observed by the VISTA telescope.

Thanks to three separate infrared filters, the VISTA telescope can peer through dust fields that normally obscure the view of an optical telescope.

The original, zoomable image is 24.6 gigabytes in size.

The image you see here below is just a small version of the original image which has a resolution of 108,500×81,500 pixels.

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All of the tiny dots you see in this image are stars. Image Credit: ESO.
All of the tiny dots you see in this image are stars. Image Credit: ESO.

In other words, it is a 9-gigapixel image of cosmic beauty that reminds us just how small we actually are.

If you want to go ahead and download the original, zoomable image, and explore the wonders of the cosmos, you can do so by clicking here.

But if you just want to take a peek, and zoom into the 84 million stars visible in the Vista image click here.

84 Million stars in one image. Image Credit: ESO.

As the image is too large to be viewed at full resolution, use the featured zoom tool to fully observe the image.

As noted in a 2012 photo release from ESO, “this gigantic dataset contains more than ten times more stars than previous studies and is a major step forward for the understanding of our home galaxy. The image gives viewers an incredible, zoomable view of the central part of our galaxy. It is so large that, if printed with the resolution of a typical book, it would be meters long and 7 meters tall.”

The image seen here covers around 315 square degrees of the sky (a bit less than 1% of the entire sky).