Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2018 April 27
Explanation: This grand allsky view of our Milky Way and nearby galaxies is not a photograph. It's a map based on individual measurements for nearly 1.7 billion stars. The astronomically rich data set used to create it, the sky-scanning Gaia satellite's second data release, includes remarkably precise determinations of position, brightness, colour, and parallax distance for 1.3 billion stars. Of course, that's about 1 percent of the total number of stars in the Milky Way. The flat plane of our galaxy still dominates the view. Home to most Milky Way stars it stretches across the centre of Gaia's stellar data map. Voids and rifts along the galactic plane correspond to starlight-obscuring interstellar dust clouds. At lower right are stars of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, neighbouring galaxies that lie just beyond the Milky Way.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.