Explore the Milky Way in Amazing 360-Degree Panorama

By Carl Engelking | March 21, 2014 10:54 am
catspaw

The Cat’s Paw Nebula. Credit: NASA/ESO/DSS2

Do you lack the time and funds for a fancy spring break getaway to some tropical clime? Well, NASA has the perfect intergalactic trip package for you. From the comforts of your desk chair, you can venture thousands upon thousands of light years into the Milky Way galaxy and return before your lunch break is over.

NASA’s Spitzer telescope spent the past decade snapping two million infrared photographs of our galaxy to stitch together a massive 360-degree panorama of the Milky Way. It’s the most detailed infrared panorama of our home galaxy ever made, and was derived from the GLIMPSE360 project.

Our galaxy is a flat, spiral disk about 100,000 light years in diameter. The GLIMPSE panorama only includes a small sliver of the sky — about 3 percent — but includes more than half of the stars in the Milky Way, which is due to our galaxy’s pancake shape.

Looking Around the Galaxy

When you take time to explore the panorama, you can find distant galaxies and areas of star formation. You’ll also notice that our galaxy is riddled with bubbles. These structures are cavities around massive stars, which blast wind and radiation into their surroundings. GLIMPSE also added navigation shortcuts so you can skip to popular destinations like Cat’s Paw Nebula, Canis Major and the galactic center (where a massive black hole resides).

However, the GLIMPSE data aren’t all for show. The data have helped astronomers create precise star maps of the Milky Way’s inner arms. The data will also guide NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to areas of star formation, where it will make even more detailed observations. The GLIMPSE panorama and Spitzer telescope mission are described in more detail in the video below.

While your friends and coworkers may tout their newly bronzed skin, you can brag about your tromp through the dark, unexplored backcountry of our galaxy where some of the faintest stars exist. Subsequently, your friends and family may suggest you take an actual vacation.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
  • Penny Haulman

    Thank you our home. This is excellent for us who love the good creation we live within and on.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Dr John Hardy

      In spite of the secular dogma that denigrates anyone who marvels at the miracle and improbability of our universe from a spiritual point of view; the word “creation” is very appropriate.
      Entropy and chaos are components out of which this “natural beauty” evolved. I personally doubt it was by “chance”, but whatever our belief system, we should accept everyone else’s concept of this as just as valid.
      Dogma no longer has a place in scientific or spiritual thinking — or at least it shouldn’t, and those who preach it narrow their perspective considerably. JSH

    • Glaisne

      Whom are you thanking?

  • makayli verran

    My Uncle James recently got a new black Mazda MAZDASPEED3
    Hatchback by working at home online. you can try here F­i­s­c­a­l­P­o­s­t­.­ℂ­o­m

  • EverSubtle

    Just another great job from the team at Cal Tech

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    Awesome!

  • Sea Otter

    Stunning! What an inspiring view to start the day.

  • Jk

    Ah yes, who could have created this, The only one true power and authority of all. God. How can you say there is no god when all of creations cry’s out the beauty of its creator.

    • lucyhaye

      No God! The Universe was NOT created. Exist!!!!!! It is eternal and it is the reason that is not needed to be created. It is in perpetual evolution and the Univers of tomorrow will be different from the actual one. Creation is a pure anthropomorphic idea, which cannot be applied to the Eternal Universe.

      • Jk

        Why do people feel the need to attack a persons opinion if it doesn’t align with their opinion. Either they are defending their believe so they can justify the way they live, or they don’t value anybody else’s opinion.
        Lucyhaye, why did you feel it necessary to attack my rightful opinion?

        • Flonk Bob

          Because opinions are debatable. You keep assuming because we think your ideas are idiotic we hate you. That’s not true. There are other reasons.

    • Flonk Bob

      It’s easy. “There is no god.” See? You clearly don’t understand science. Stellar evolution. Biological evolution. Logic. Besides, the creator I’ve seen in most religions is anything but beautiful. Vile bugger, he is.

      • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com John Kuipers

        Bob, that’s your opinion, you have the right to voice it. I have my opinion and it is my right to express it,
        Grow up.

        • Flonk Bob

          Hey, John-boy, I did express my opinion. That’s why you’re pissed off. Grow up.

          • Jk

            Hey Bobby, I am not pissed. I made a comment, you did not need to comment if you valued my opinion, obviously you only value your own opinion.

    • Glaisne

      There’s no god.

      • Jk

        Your opinion.

        • Glaisne

          No. Fact.

          • Jk

            Now that you bring that up, I will take that as “you wants some facts” well the bible is the most accurate history book in the world, pieces of the structure of Noah’s ark have been found, fitting the biblical dimensions, science shows that time stood still for a day, (the day that the Gideonites were slaughtered), that’s just to mention some historical facts. If you want to get into how God and his power still exist today, I would do that for you too.

          • Glaisne

            The bible is fiction. It is not accurate or true. But hey it’s your delusion, enjoy it!

          • Flonk Bob

            The bible is demonstrably false, full of errors and vile morals. If the god of the bible were real I’d request a ticket to hell. At least the other demon in the bible (Satan) is honest.

  • hammusk

    So, since science is what has shown us the truth of God’s creation even after many centuries of the holy men violently suppressing this truth in favor of a pathetic little diorama of a cosmos (brought on by idol worship of man made texts), then is not science doing sacred work?

    • Bob Bryant

      Creation? Wake up! There never was a beginning, and there never will be an end. Why is it that we humans need a BEGINNING AND END? You need to wake up to reality.

      • hammusk

        I agree with you. I suppose I could have put the phrase “God’s creation” in quotes but I was speaking to the person below and using their jargon (which I don’t have a big problem with). To you I’d ask; What if you define ‘God’ as nothing more or less than all that is, was or ever will be. ALL ! That includes us. I’m not a theist but I like the feel of this idea. I’m not implying any intention, or awareness of this cosmos. Just that we are ‘it’s’ offspring and can celebrate that and be thankful for and feel a profound connection with ‘it’ whatever you call it.

        • Flonk Bob

          Hammusk, if the religonists hadn’t so abused the concept of deity it might be acceptable to define it your way. However, the baggage that the concept ‘god’ carries after these centuries of abuse is too much. Perhaps we can pick a new word/concept for the infinite?

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Daniel Taschler

            Existence.

          • hammusk

            Again, I like your idea of a new word and I agree the history of Religion drips with ignorance and cruelty. In the here and now, it’s a big world. Hopefully, big enough to accommodate, peacefully, many points of view. I can be terribly snarky but I’m trying to find a path that has more tendency to get the other side to listen and hear. It’s not easy. I fail at it a LOT but I, also, believe that how we treat each other trumps all religious thought, all political opinions. Not that we can’t say what we believe but to actually shine the light so someone else can see is not done by being snarky or bitter or attacking them. Did you miss my original point? It was, simply, that science being the best thing at finding TRUTH, should be considered sacred. That was the whole point in the first place. I hope it’s not lost in this, now, too long exchange.

          • Flonk Bob

            Hammusk, you said “…science being the best thing at finding TRUTH, should be considered sacred…”

            YES. I did miss that point in your post. And YES I agree. As for being snarky, it’s my best bit. I think it can be traced to guilt at having once bought into the stupidity that is religion. Ultimately the cognitive dissonance between what I knew to be true and what I wished to be true drove me out of the church and into the library. :)

          • Emkay

            World wide Religion(s) are simply man-made inventions to control other men…..
            (sic) Gun control is not about guns, its about control……

          • hammusk

            I was raised Catholic (church grade school) but, luckily, had down to earth parents. THEN, I went to a Jesuit College. Jesuits are very worldly and in spite of lots of philosophy and religion classes they were academic and not dogmatic. I totally outgrew religion there but didn’t end up with guilt about it. I think I was so overwhelmed in grade school that I felt I was forced without choice into that culture so leaving it wasn’t guilt inducing. I know quite a few people who are, still, very damaged by their experience of religion. It’s good for them if they can let go of it (not to give up the culture war over reason vs. blind faith).

          • hammusk

            BUT to change subjects; I wish these graphics of the Milky Way had objects labeled. Etta Carinna (sp?) is an object I’d like to check out in it’s context. I think I found it but I don’t know…..

          • Flonk Bob

            I kind of agree, but it’s also fun to treat it as a HUGE edition of “Where’s Waldo?”. More like “Where’s Orion?” maybe.

          • Flonk Bob

            Interesting. I was raised Catholic as well, but stopped attending mass right after my confirmation. I even had the knuckle-rapping nuns for ccd class, and the quietly drunk old Irish priest. When I was about 17 I started attending Baptist churches…i ended up being a the Deacon of the board of evangelism at the Evangelical Free Church in our neighborhood. Then I started reading again. I was encouraged to read the Bible so I did. Cover to cover. That was a problem! I figured I must have misunderstood, so I read it again. And again. And again…seven times in all. I finally realized the problem wasn’t my understanding. The problem was I understood quite well what I was reading, and it was vile! The hypocrisy I saw in the church was not at all different to the misogyny and hatred and genocide and slavery that the book promulgated. The godlet of the Bible (YHVH) was more desert demon that anything worthy of worship.

            Sadly, none of the other gods I read about were any better. And there is no real, supportable evidence for the existence of any of them. So…I don’t believe in god. That is not, by the way, the same as saying “I have proof there is no god.” Since it’s not my theory I don’t have to find support for god. I just have to wait for someone to find it. Until then, it’s a faith issue, and I prefer science to wishful thinking.

      • Emkay

        The only thing that is truly permanent, is change…

  • Bill Rose

    Why does the discussion have to devolve into does God exist or not? The universe is an amazing place and this panorama is both exquisite and humbling. That science enables us to describe even part of how it came to be is an amazing testament to our intellectual prowess. You can argue all you want to whether it started with the Big Bang, or that this is only one of an infinite number of big bang cycles, or one of an infinite number of universes or that we are just a small bubble that inflated within a larger universe. None of that precludes a God or necessarily demands there be a God. If you believe, you believe because of faith. If you don’t believe, it is an unprovable hypothesis and therefore you don’t believe because of a different kind of faith. For me, I will just sit back and marvel at it all and enjoy the fact that I am alive at a time when we have and continue to learn so much about the universe we live in and let the rest of you argue about what is unprovable – or at least unprovable until you pass away and you find yourselves looking “down” at the fools that didn’t believe…or not.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com John Kuipers

    Reid, you are entitled to your opinion. We live in a free world. Creation is what I believe in and you don’t. So what, font get nasty about it. In the end when our souls meet our master and creator, we will all know the truth. So just be a little more accepting of other peoples opinions.

    • Flonk Bob

      You keep slapping people for expressing their opinions, yet you want to be allowed to express yours. None of us ever said you shouldn’t! Just don’t expect anyone with brains to accept it. You are wrong. That’s all. See, you can have your opinions from here until the cows come home, but that doesn’t make them true. Reality is NOT a democracy, you don’t get to vote on it, and it doesn’t change because your imaginary friend doesn’t like it.

      Grow up.

    • Glaisne

      If you’re going to express an opinion you are going to have to accept the fact that you may have your opinion criticized. Not all opinions are equal. Some are backed up by facts, reasoning and logic, and some are not. If you make an opinion on something you better be prepared to defend it. Simply having an opinion is not enough.

  • joe_public1

    Creationist are one of the main reasons America will be left behind in the sciences and technologies of the future by countries like Russia, China, and even third world countries !! A move should begin to diminish the influence of religion in the daily lives of people, if only for the good of the planet and it’s survival in the coming generations !!

  • Jaime Mauricio

    It is wonderful ¡¡

  • Guest

    I assume Joe means creationists like Sir Isaac Newton to name one of many such creationists? There will never be a diminishing of religion because everyone of necessity has one. All religions answer three questions: 1) Where did people come from? 2) Why are people here? 3) What does the future hold for people? Everyone has answer to those three questions and those answers identify their answers. If your answers are 1) By accident, 2) No reason and 3) Extinction then your religion is the same as that of men like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Is that religion superior in producing useful advances in science? I heard this same rhetoric about the US being left behind because we did not embrace the same religion as China and the USSR when Regan was president. Who made all of the advances that define how the world has changed since then? The one country on Earth that identified itself as 85% or more as being Christian. What meaningful advances did those countries that by and large embrace that other religion contribute in the last 30 years? Not hardly anything. So Joe how about a little objective evidence based on actual experience before jumping to such conclusions.

  • Danny Remington

    I assume Joe means creationists like Sir Isaac Newton to name one of many? There will never be a diminishing of religion because everyone of necessity has one. All religions answer three questions: 1) Where did people come from? 2) Why are people here? 3) What does the future hold for people? Everyone has answer to those three questions and those answers identify their religion. If your answers are 1) By accident, 2) No reason and 3) Extinction then your religion is the same as that of men like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Is that religion superior in producing useful advances in science? I heard this same rhetoric about the US being left behind because we did not embrace the same religion as China and the USSR when Regan was president. Who made all of the advances that define how the world has changed since then? The one country on Earth that identified itself as 85% or more as being Christian. What meaningful advances did those countries that by and large embrace that other religion contribute in the last 30 years? Not hardly anything. So Joe how about a little objective evidence based on actual experience before jumping to such conclusions.

  • Danny Remington

    I assume Joe means creationists like Sir Isaac Newton to name one of many? There will never be a diminishing of religion because everyone of necessity has one. All religions answer three questions: 1) Where did people come from? 2) Why are people here? 3) What does the future hold for people? Everyone has answer to those three questions and those answers identify their religion. If your answers are 1) By accident, 2) No reason and 3) Extinction then your religion is the same as that of men like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Is that religion superior in producing useful advances in science? I heard this same rhetoric about the US being left behind because we did not embrace the same religion as China and the USSR embraced when Regan was president. Who made most of the advances that define how the world has changed since then? The one country on Earth that identified itself as 85% or more as being Christian. What meaningful advances did those countries that by and large embrace that religion embraced by China and Russia contribute in the last 30 years? Not hardly anything. So Joe how about a little objective evidence based on actual experience before jumping to such conclusions.

    • Flonk Bob

      I don’t have a religion. Further, the connection of communism to atheism was a poor attempt that failed with McCarthy. You can’t redefine religion to suit your thesis…it is what it is, and I don’t have it.

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