New Milky Way portrait to be on Town Center media wall

March 20, 2014

by Terry Devitt

The dramatic new infrared picture of the plane of our galaxy will be viewable through March 27 on the large media wall in the Town Center of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on the UW-Madison campus.

The complete 360-degree zoomable image — a composite built by a team of Wisconsin astronomers and composed of more than two million infrared pictures captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope — was unveiled for the first time today at a TED conference in Vancouver by NASA.

The picture is the highest resolution picture of our galaxy in mid- infrared light. Using the images that make up the new portrait, scientists have helped resolve the structure and contents of our galaxy and have revealed a host of previously hidden stellar nurseries.

By looking at the sky in infrared light, astronomers can cut through clouds of obscuring interstellar dust, revealing stars, stellar nurseries, proto stars, bubbles, jets, bow shocks, and nebulae that can’t be seen in visible light.