Scientists Complete Huge Survey Of Milky Way

Astronomers have released a huge survey of the galactic plane of the Milky Way containing a staggering 3.32 billion celestial objects — arguably the largest such catalogue so far. The data for this unprecedented survey were taken with the Dark Energy Camera at the NSF’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The Milky Way Galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars, star-forming regions, and dark clouds of dust and gas. Collecting these objects for study is a mammoth task that took two years to complete and produced more than 10 terabytes of data from 21,400 individual exposures. Most of the stars and dust in the Milky Way are located in its disk — the bright band stretching across this image — in which the spiral arms lie. While this profusion of stars and dust makes for beautiful images like these, it also makes the Galactic plane challenging to observe. Edward Schlafly, a researcher at the AURA-managed Space Telescope Science Institute says "With this new survey, we can map the three-dimensional structure of the Milky Way's stars and dust in unprecedented detail”