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Spitzer's 5-Gigapixel Milky Way

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the zoom-zoom dept.

Space 124

James Harold writes "Today NASA unveiled a new infrared mosaic of our galaxy. The result of over 800,000 individual images collected by the Spitzer Space Telescope, it is the largest, highest-resolution, and most sensitive infrared picture ever taken of the Milky Way (and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future). Because Spitzer sees in infrared, it penetrates much farther into the galaxy, revealing previously hidden star clusters, star-forming regions, shocked gases, glowing 'bubbles' and more. The complete mosaic is about 400,000 by 13,000 pixels, and a 180' printed version is being shown at the American Astronomical Society meeting in St. Louis. A zoomable, annotated version of two different variants on the image (as well as some additional information on the science) is available at Alien Earths, a NASA- and NSF-supported education site." The Spitzer survey is already causing a stir potentially bigger than that raised when Pluto was deemed not a planet: two minor spiral arms of the Milky Way may be demoted.

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Compression at it's finest (5, Insightful)

nexeruza (954362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647263)

Wow they took a 400,000 by 13,000 pixel image and compressed it to a 200x200 jpeg to wow us net folks, stellar.

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

PeelBoy (34769) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647275)

That's what I was thinking. Where's the beef?

Re:Compression at it's finest (5, Funny)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647769)

That's what I was thinking. Where's the beef?
Are you kidding? I was scared to click the link to TFA thinking it might try to download to whole thing.

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647293)

Wow they took a 400,000 by 13,000 pixel image and compressed it to a 200x200 jpeg to wow us net folks, stellar.
Yeah I RTFA in the hope to find a link to an original image. But it's just a stupid press release.

Re:Compression at it's finest (5, Informative)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647315)

Here are some hi-res images [caltech.edu] - found them finally.

damn iso. (2, Funny)

bronney (638318) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647547)

well they should've shot it in low iso, those damn ccd noise is unbearable </sarcasm>

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647597)

Careful downloading those, you will hit your ISP cap

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647605)

Careful downloading those, you will hit your ISP cap
The images (hi-res) average around 60mb each. 16 images which should be roughly 1GB. What ISP cap do you have?!

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

Tigerion (1246894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648273)

Welcome to the land of Australia

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648995)

1GB in a day is going to hit hard on most caps... I'm on 5GB (albeit unlimited evenings/weekends) but even if yours was 20GB it's a reasonable chunk.

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

ndmccab (1217236) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647663)

so the earth is in for a head-on collision with the grill of a massive ford automobile?

Re:Compression at it's finest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647763)

In somewhat related news, I discovered why HDTVs were invented. Take a look at NASA's "Hidden Universe" podcast.

http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/features/hiddenuniverse/index.shtml

Some of the imagery they have is absolutely beautiful.

Re:Compression at it's finest (4, Informative)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647855)

Alien Earths has some pretty good images of this thing
http://www.alienearths.org/glimpse/ [alienearths.org]
The viewer is pretty slick

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

UNKN (1225066) | more than 6 years ago | (#23649693)

My god, let's make the link to the pictures smaller please? It may just be me but when there's only one type ( JPEG ) available I usually don't find that the term to describe the type to be the link. The text is small enough as is, they could have at least underlined it! BTW, thanks for the links, some pretty nice stuff they got there and saved me time!

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23651725)

BTW, thanks for the links, some pretty nice stuff they got there and saved me time!
You're welcome. They are amazing images. I will be having fun mucking around with them.

Re:Compression at it's finest (4, Interesting)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 6 years ago | (#23650273)

Here is a concatenation of all the screen resolution images into a single 14400x492 image: http://samwyse.googlepages.com/ssc2008-11b_medium.jpg [googlepages.com]

BTW, I created them from the caltech screen-res images using this Python script:

from PIL import Image
full = Image.new('RGB', (16*900, 492))
for i in range(16):
        piece = Image.open('ssc2008-11b%d_medium.jpg' % (i+1))
        full.paste(piece, (i*900, 0))
full.save('ssc2008-11b_medium.jpg')

really? (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647525)

You were really planning to click on a link pointing to a 20 gigabyte image? Then what?

Re:really? (5, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647541)

You were really planning to click on a link pointing to a 20 gigabyte image? Then what?
  • Start downloading
  • Go out for coffee
  • Start missing slashdot
  • Drink more coffee
  • Come home
  • Cancel download
  • Continue browsing/posting on slashdot.

Re:really? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647689)

  • ???
  • profit

Re:really? (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647741)

I was more interested in what would happen after he got the image onto the hard drive:
  • Double click on "UnbelievablyHugeImage.tiff"
  • Application emits malloc(-1) system call...
  • ???

Re:really? (3, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647771)

I was more interested in what would happen after he got the image onto the hard drive:
Well, on a HD display of 1920x1200, you can potentially generate 2000 backgrounds. Cool huh?

Re:really? (2, Interesting)

Slorv (841945) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648021)

It really isn't that extra.
We have no problem printing 20k pixels wide images. Our now rather old HP printer only print 106 cm but prints can be as long as the paper rolls allow.
At 200 px/inch the print will be 2,5 meters - really nothing fancy.
I do a couple of prints like that every month.

However, the cost of black ink for a picture of the night sky, that will hurt a bit.

Re:really? (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23650045)

Next time maybe they'll take the picture during the day.

Re:Compression at it's finest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647311)

"Stellar". Aheh heh.

Re:Compression at it's finest (4, Informative)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647317)

On the NASA site (first link), hit the visual button at the bottom of the screen. You'll be sent to http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ssc2008-11/visuals.shtml

You can download 3000*2400 versions of each mosaic, or download each individual tile (16 in total) at insane resolution. Enjoy.

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647555)

I felt a great disturbance in the force. It's as if thousands of geeks suddenly cried out and changed their desktop backgrounds.

On a serious note, anyone feeling up to downloading the ultra huge versions and finding some interesting desktop sized visuals? And how long till the images are added to google sky?

Re:Compression at it's finest (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647385)

Why they didn't provide a link to the goods I dunno.

Anyway, it's here: http://www.alienearths.org/glimpse/ [alienearths.org]

Re:Compression at it's finest (4, Informative)

pgn674 (995941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647569)

Here's a link to the zoomable explorer mentioned in the summary: http://www.alienearths.org/glimpse/ [alienearths.org]

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23649279)

Very impressive! since we now know so much for our galaxy, can we get a new Star Trek series that sets things straight in relation to reality? it would be impressive to have a starship travel those massive distances and see all these stars up close.

Re:Compression at it's finest (1)

edsyc (1088833) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647843)

Grammar at its worst.

Bigger than Pluto? (4, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647287)

The average lay person is not going to care about the status of spiral arms in the galaxy. Everybody learned that Pluto was a planet in grade school. That fact gives the average person a stake in its status. When you ask about a spiral arm, you'll hear "huh?".

Pluto is not a Planet (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647341)

He is a dog - sorry I could not resist it..

Re:Bigger than Pluto? (2, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647675)

And anyway, it's just the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy.

Re:Bigger than Pluto? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23649741)

bloody digital watches!

Two minor arms? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647775)

How could they be less than 18 years old?

Or, for the baseball fans.... Are they going to send those arms back to the rookie league?

Re:Bigger than Pluto? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23650081)

The average lay person is not going to care about the status of spiral arms in the galaxy.
Just tell them it's a second amendment issue.

They found ET (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647325)

It was saying "Eliot!"

Seriously though, I just came for the Spitzer jokes.

Re:They found ET (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647557)

You mean like how I expected 800,000 separate images generated by Spitzer to amount to a respectable porn collection?

Or that to put them all together would make for a mosaic that should cause Larry Flint to blush?

Or maybe this is to explain the $5,000 "session". For that he got full rights to all recordings of his consultant's performance.

The big surprise of course is that NASA is distributing this stuff to help rescue it's reduced budget.

Re:They found ET (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23649965)

It was saying "Eliot!"
Really. I spent the first few minutes reading the article trying to figure out why they'd name a telescope after a governor who banged some hooers.

Accessibility (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647329)

If this information is owned by the government, it should be free to the citizens, and hence free to google sky, or the other alternatives. Why doesn't this immediately go that direction?

I understand Google Earth/etc. being bound by paying terrestrial satellite owners for photos, but I would think NASA could get better public support if they were more available in the sky.

Re:Accessibility (1)

Vaticus (1000378) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647445)

Thats a very good question indeed.

Re:Accessibility (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647481)

Doesn't nearly all of NASA's images end up being released? I've heard that with Hubble bookings, images are kept private for a year or so while they process, and then send off to whoever booked the Hubble so they can publish findings/analysis first, and it all gets popped onto NASA website.

Re:Accessibility (4, Informative)

wass (72082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647857)

I believe all NASA (and I believe US govt funded) astronomical research data that isn't classified is eventually put into the public domain. Eg, all HST data.

But every mission and every observation has a PI and a team of researchers that have proposed that project, have done a huge amount of homework on why they chose the targets they did, what they hope to observe, and how they will do analysis. The PI's of the project are thereby given exclusive access to their data for a period of time. IIRC, for Hubble it's one year.

This period of exclusivity is to allow them to get the credit for their hard work in choosing the observation, and to prevent being scooped by fellow academics. It's like a very short-lived patent of sorts.

IMHO, a period of one year for astro data is a perfectly valid way to satisfy all parties involved. It also puts pressure on the researchers to get their asses in gear and publish, before someone can get at their data. But it lets everybody else use the data for their own purposes after the expiry date.

Of course there is the question of the data storage and retrieval service, and all the calibrations that need to be done on the raw data, and the effective HOWTO procedures for such calibration. Much of this is available, and for active projects there are help desks. Eg, for each of the sensors on the HST there is a specific help desk to provide assistance explaining how to get and process the data. But for older missions, there are no funds to provide these services. But the data should be there, somewhere. But you're probably on your own to calibrate it properly (or at least find older users of said data that can help you).

Re:Accessibility (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23651827)

This period of exclusivity is to allow them to get the credit for their hard work in choosing the observation, and to prevent being scooped by fellow academics. It's like a very short-lived patent of sorts.

Was just going to say, you mean "like how the patent system is supposed to work?

Re:Accessibility (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647927)

Errr... It is. All of it in its full glorious 16+GB raw image data glory. Split convinetly into 16 chunks so that thsoe of us with only a measly 2GB of RAM dont have their computers whimper and die trying to display the images.

Re:Accessibility (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648391)

Also, it would be pretty useless for google sky: it is IR, not visible.

For a second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647333)

.. I thought this was some new escort agency the former NY governor took some photos off

Link (2, Informative)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647363)

The image is here [alienearths.org] . Yet again great editing.

Link Please? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647387)

Anyone got a torrent?

Re:Link Please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23648395)

http://www.mininova.org/tor/1470959 should do the right thing.

Direct link to the huge images (5, Informative)

Lord Juan (1280214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647433)

But, the images (the huge ones) are right there, here is the direct link to the huge images http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/Media/releases/ssc2008-11/ssc2008-11a.shtml [caltech.edu]

MOD PARENT DOWN - Karma Whore - Extreme Redundancy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647781)

You karma whore. This nice, prominent, near-the-top-of-the-frigging-page comment [slashdot.org] was posted 18 minutes earlier than your post.

This one [slashdot.org] was posted 18 minutes earlier than your post.

This one [slashdot.org] was posted 18 minutes earlier than your post.

This one [slashdot.org] was posted 16 minutes earlier than your post.

This one [slashdot.org] was posted 12 minutes earlier than your post. This one is the 4th post above your own at the time of this writing.

I have a hard time believing you somehow missed each and every one of those posts. None of these are just a minute or two of "maybe he didn't have a chance" difference. So, good job karma whoring, you karma whore.

With some editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647461)

That summary takes a whole new twist...

Spitzer

James Harold writes "Today NASA unveiled a new infrared mosaic. The result of over 800,000 individual images collected by Spitzer, it is the largest, highest-resolution, and most sensitive infrared picture ever taken (and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future). Because Spitzer sees in infrared, it penetrates much farther, revealing previously hidden regions, shocked gases, glowing 'bubbles' and more. The complete mosaic is about 400,000 by 13,000 pixels, and a 180' printed version is being shown at the a meeting in St. Louis. A zoomable, annotated version of two different variants on the image (as well as some additional information on the science) is available at Alien Earths, a NASA- and NSF-supported education site." Spitzer is already causing a stir potentially bigger than Pluto.

And thats just with deletes :)

Of Tags and Men (5, Funny)

arnoldo.j.nunez (1300907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647463)

Okay, I realize the tag says !eliot, but when the summary says: Spitzer, penetrates, revealed, and shocked, it makes me think that Slashdot is trying to embed secret messages in TFS.

chevy sponsored? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647513)

Is that a Chevr olet sponsored image ?

eliot... (1)

TXFRATBoy (954419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647519)

Reread the summary, but this time...think Eliot Spitzer and his lady of the night, Ashley Dupre... or porn...

deep penetration (5, Funny)

liquidf (1146307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647531)

Because Spitzer sees in infrared, it penetrates much farther into the galaxy...
wow, never thought i would see "Spitzer" and "penetrate" in the same sentance together and *not* be talking about a certain governor

Re:deep penetration (1)

entropy99 (1301633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647825)

But does he see in infrared?

Re:deep penetration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23648441)

Yeah, it's a shame they didn't write that Spitzer's heat sensing orifice swallows vast gobs of raw, unadulterated electromagnetic emissions from a giant, glowing appendage the size of a galaxy. If they did that, we'd have to have a heated debate about whether or not it's fair to say that "Spitzer swallows."

Re:deep penetration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23651111)

For the money he paid for five diamonds, his milky way better be huge.

Spitzer, Milky way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647545)

I thought I was reading the New York Post for a moment.

Misleading Title (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647599)

And here I was thinking I was gonna see hi-res pictures of Eliot's whore with his jizz on it...

Amusing or annoying? (1)

Robaato (958471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647633)

I found it...interesting that the first commenter in the article about the two arms being demoted took a single comment about astronomy ("Trying to create a picture of the Milky Way is about 40% hard science and 60% imagination") and tried to spin it into a debate on "Intelligent Design."

Maybe interesting isn't the word I'm looking for.

And the winning viewer is... (1, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647645)

You know you're going to have trouble viewing when downloading a JPEG actually takes a noticeable ammount of time over broadband. IE, MSPaint, Firefox, and a trusty little shareware image editor I use--they all choked on the first hi-res image. The surprise winner? The Windows Picture and Fax viewer that comes with XP. I was even able to zoom in several times, but it too eventually choked.

The failure of Firefox is a bit of a disappointment here. The Picture and Fax win is surprising since other MS apps identified the image as being in an "unsupported format". The shareware app thought it was "damaged". This is probably just an effort on the part of those apps to protect themselves from what's usualy a nonsensical dimension.

Well, that's the Windows XP side of this. How are people viewing these images on other OSs? Are you able to view it with anything that "just comes with the OS", or are you having to go out of your way?

Re:And the winning viewer is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647723)

Clicked the image with swiftfox (optimized firefox for linux) and it all went smoothly from there. No issues whatsoever (then again, i have a decent linux box [Core2Duo, 3GB RAM, 2GB SWAP, 64bit linux])

Re:And the winning viewer is... (1)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647807)

Grabbed an image from the center(~80mb)
Eye of gnome worked fine for me (came with Ubuntu I believe)
Takes a little while to render the full (zoomed out) view but I'm able to zoom in and move around the image fine
(core2duo 2gb ram)

Re:And the winning viewer is... (2, Informative)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647809)

It's working fine for me on GQview, on Xubuntu. Konqueror loads it up fine, too. I didn't even try to open it on firefox; I know the image viewing on it sucks! For viewing images on a browser on my windows system, I use K-Meleon. I've often wondered why firefox won't add that handy little advanced zoom in/out feature!

Re:And the winning viewer is... (1)

Dh2000 (71834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648067)

this [yellowgorilla.net] feature?

Re:And the winning viewer is... (2, Informative)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647821)

IE, MSPaint, Firefox, and a trusty little shareware image editor I use--they all choked on the first hi-res image
Eye Of Gnome opens them just fine. It's a great little program, and as a KDE user it's the only Gnome app that I use as a default. I didn't even try anything else yet.

Re:And the winning viewer is... (1)

Bitmanhome (254112) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647995)

Likewise. But bear in mind, EOG took nearly a full gigabyte of RAM to do it.

Re:And the winning viewer is... (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648423)

That's actually good. The images are about a gigabyte, so that would be about the minimum possible.

Re:And the winning viewer is... (1)

deathstar_nagisa (950507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648847)

Am I the only one who actually can't find the really large images? Could someone post here a link to the page that provides the links for these about-1GB images please?

Re:And the winning viewer is... (3, Informative)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647949)

IrfanView worked fine for me, but be warned the Images are ~1gb of raw data each so if you don't have at least 1.5GB of RAM your computers going to be hurting on these.

Re:And the winning viewer is... (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648665)

I think it's amazing you can fit 2+ GB of data into a 34.8 MB download. That's some compression.
the files use Adobe RGB 1998 colour space taking up 2.94GB (ssc2008-11a15.jpg), and when converted to sRGB they take up 2.2GB.
It takes the GIMP around 45 seconds to a minute to open these images on a dual quad core xeon with 12GB RAM. See .sig
Just for fun I'm rendering this image as a sphere ! 5 minutes so far, and it's at 25% ...

I have three words for this (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647653)

Epic Freakin' Wallpaper. I wish I had a printer that could do that size for my walls.

Re:I have three words for this (1)

Kentari (1265084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648745)

I got the printer (well, access to one...), but I don't have a room with more than 70m of wall. That's if you want to print it 250cm wide. But somehow I doubt the operator will want to print it for me... Sticking it to a wall is the next challenge...

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23647657)

Great, now all i have to do is dl the hi-res images so i can print them out and line my office walls with them. When my boss asks me to take it down, I'll reply with "I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

Imagination! *magic sparkle* (1)

Aegis Runestone (1248876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647787)

I agree with this guy from the article page:

"40% hard science and 60% imagination"

How come NS will print an article on astronomy, which freely admits to being mostly imaginary, but not one about I.D., which is based much more in fact?


So... umm... imagination! Just use your imagination, everyone! :P

Wow (1, Redundant)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 6 years ago | (#23647931)

And to think that only a century ago, we were debating whether ours was the only "island universe". It's amazing to think what progress we've made in only a couple lifetimes.

indeed (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648997)

And all based on essentially two-dimensional observation. It's like having your neck immediately permanently clamped to a chair the moment you're born, and then trying to figure out the three-dimensional size, shape and arrangement of the objects all around you, without ever being able to get up and walk towards them, pick them up, look at them from another angle, and so forth. Very much like Plato's people of the cave, I think, trying to deduce the nature of real objects solely from the shadows they cast on the wall.

I'd still like to know how they get absolute distance measurements from IR observation inside the galaxy. No red shift, no absolute/relative luminosity relationships like you have with stars. How is it done?

One arm, OK. But TWO??!!! (3, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648231)

"two minor spiral arms of the Milky Way may be demoted."

I suspected something like this might happen, I just didn't dream that they'd go so far.

I mean, you have to be just a little suspicious about whether all star-forming arms are on an equal footing when you look at the names. There's Perseus and Sagittarius. Then we get to Scutum-Centaurus, and you have to wonder if the astronomers needed a leg up in the imagination department. And then all doubt vanishes when we get to the fourth arm...Norma. Yes, Norma. Like the girl who couldn't wait to get old enough to disown her parents, legally change her name to Chantal and get a job at the brass-pole ballet.

You just had to know they were having their doubts about arm number 4.

On a more positive note, the same bunch of guys who just slammed Scutum-Centaurus and, um, "Norma", are also telling us that they "obtained detailed information about our galaxy's bar, and found that it extends farther out from the centre of the galaxy than previously thought".

A bar that's closer to the house than you thought can't be a bad thing. Especially when you need to walk home.

Re:One arm, OK. But TWO??!!! (1)

Jump (135604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23648327)

Not seeing all 4 arms in infrared light is not new. In fact this has been known for a long time and it just means that those stellar arms are not density waves in the stellar disk. However, they are seen in the distribution of molecular clouds. Basically this means that the Milky Way has two overlapping spiral pattern: a stronger 2-armed mode which is in stars and gas, and another 4-armed mode which is only seen in gas. The 4-arm mode is weaker (as expected from theory) and extends over a smaller radius range. So not all studies will find 4 arms. In the optical, that is seen by eye from the distance, our Galaxy would look 4-armed, because those weaker arms are still hosts of star formation. But in infrared, many galaxies look different, because in this waveband we see mostly the older stellar population.

Phewww... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23648589)

I read that as Gov. Spitzer's 5-Gigapixel Milky Way.

No images please (1)

cheesecake23 (1110663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23649079)

Spitzer's 5-Gigapixel Milky Way
No thanks, I'm not interested in seeing hires shots of what went on at the Emperor's Club.

Can I get in to see the big printout? (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 6 years ago | (#23649847)

I live in St. Louis and I'd like to take my kids to the convention center to see this thing. Is it somewhere that it can be viewed by the public, or do they expect full admission prices for three kids under 10?

Death gaze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23649919)

How dare we observe everything so thoughtlessly? I mean, will someone please think of all the cats in the galaxy who still enjoy their happy unobserved lives (or not)?

Chevy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23650281)

Why is the universe shaped like a chevy emblem in the center? Why are we so blind, our universe is the chrome coating on a chevy symbol... really makes you think.
http://carpictures.carjunky.com/albums/album04/chevy_emblem.sized.jpg

I saw Spitzer once. (1)

slipangle (859826) | more than 6 years ago | (#23650309)

My uncle worked at Ball Aerospace in Boulder where Spitzer was built. He took me on a tour of the place and I got to see Spitzer while it was still in a few pieces. The solid beryllium mirror was a beautiful thing.

How do they recontruct the milkyway images? (1)

schweini (607711) | more than 6 years ago | (#23650481)

Could someone explain how they 'build' the images that depict the Milkyway, as seen from OUTSIDE the Milkyway, from these images? Do they actually have parralax measurements for each star, or do they use some frequency-shifts? And how did they do this aprox. 20 years ago, when they already had relativly exact images of the Milkyway, but technology was way more inferior?

Re:How do they recontruct the milkyway images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23651247)

The reconstructed images of the Milky Way from "outside" are not very exact. Various surveys have been used to plot the locations (e.g. using parallax) of stars in our galaxy (e.g. Hipparcos [wikipedia.org] eventually measured over a million stars). This can give quite a bit of information.

However, other parts of the galaxy are totally obscured from our view. For instance the portion "behind" the galactic core is hidden [wikipedia.org] behind the dense concentration of stars and dust. So our knowledge about our own galaxy's structure is in some ways less complete than for other galaxies we can see.

Overall the shape and structures of the galaxies can be reconstructed by analyzing the stellar densities in various directions, coupled with various estimates of distances. This can give us quite a bit of information about the locations and sizes of the galactic arms. However, the artistic images of the Milky Way that we've all seen are typically made by looking at other comparable spiral galaxies, and using that as a starting point (with knowledge of the number of arms in our galaxy, etc.).

There's still quite a bit we don't know about our home galaxy.

My House (1)

Suit_N_Tie (128024) | more than 6 years ago | (#23650691)

Hey... I can see my house from there...

Great Galactic Goatse!!! (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#23650847)

...shocked gases...


I guess they were shocked by seeing the Giant Goatse black hole at the center of the galaxy.

disappointed... (1)

BenphemeR (1301865) | more than 6 years ago | (#23651003)

I thought this article was about photos on Eliot Spitzer's digital camera...

A good test for Gimp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23651321)

Looks like a good test for image editing programs. How they play with thing? Anyone tested it?

is this in Google Sky? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#23651493)

Google, MicroSoft and others are generalizing their map software to pan and zoom through huge astronomical databases such as this. The first two are partnering the massive telescope surveys to manage the petabytes of data to be acquired.

req. Quotes (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 6 years ago | (#23652039)

I was showing my gf this site. I showed her one, told her it was pink. She said"Of course. all nebulae are pink"
"Set Course for the nebulae" I started zooming in. "But captain, our shields will be useless!" She almost peed herself.


Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour, That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned, A sun that is the source of all our power. The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see Are moving at a million miles a day In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour, Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'. Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars. It's a hundred thousand light years side to side. It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick, But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide. We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point. We go 'round every two hundred million years, And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions In this amazing and expanding universe. The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding In all of the directions it can whizz As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know, Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is. So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure, How amazingly unlikely is your birth, And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space, 'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.
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