Paris – Scientists with the European Space Observatory (ESO) released on Wednesday a new image of the Milky Way four times bigger that the first release.

This new image is the result of The ATLASGAL survey, a mapping mission with nearly 70 associated science papers mainly published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The new ATLASGAL maps, which details the cold areas distributed throughout the Milky Way, cover an area of 140 degrees long and 3 degrees wide. These new maps are also of higher quality. This not only gave it much bigger survey distance than before, it is also shown much greater detail giving them the opportunity to re-observed to obtain a more uniform data quality over the whole survey area.

Photo: ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium
Photo: ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium

The survey was made with APEX, one of ESO’s specialized telescopes in Chile. It was completed using wavelengths of light that lie between radio waves and infrared radiation. The images were able to reveal concentrations of dense gas with temperatures near absolute zero. These dense, cold gas clouds are the future construction sites for new stars, and this image will help scientists find and study them.

“ATLASGAL provides exciting insights into where the next generation of high-mass stars and clusters form. By combining these with observations from Planck, we can now obtain a link to the large-scale structures of giant molecular clouds,” Timea Csengeri, one of the researchers in a news release said.

New maps open up possibilities for Scientist

The new map is giving astronomers a transformational look to study what is called the cold universe. This opens up the possibilities of new discoveries as scientists mine the dataset for more clues about the Milky Way.

Researchers have used that information to track down star-making factories in the galaxy and get a better idea of just where they are as well as how they work.

Friedrich Wyrowski, an astronomer and APEX scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany said that with the new survey scientist will be able to find all of the raw material for star formation in the Milky Way that was previously hidden from view.

How does APEX work?

ESO’s specialized telescope is placed 16,700 feet above sea level on Chile’s Chajnantor Plateau. It works with a 39-foot dish that peers into the universe and measures light radiation, which comes from the most frigid objects in the universe, also known as cold dust.

The APEX telescope is able to spot cold dust thanks to a sensor called LABOCA that is itself ultracold. By cooling this sensor to less than 0.3 degrees above absolute zero, it has a high sensitivity for submillimeter radiation coming from cold dust. LABOCA also has a wide field of view that is equal to one-third of the diameter of the full moon, so it can capture huge masses of the sky.

Source: Fox News