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NASA Releases Images That Show 360 Degree View Of Milky Way [Video]

Update Date: Mar 25, 2014 09:50 AM EDT

NASA has released a new panoramic view of our galaxy comprising nearly 2.5 million images. These images were captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

According to NASA, it is the clearest video tour of the galaxy yet made.

"If we actually printed this out, we'd need a billboard as big as the Rose Bowl Stadium to display it," Robert Hurt, an imaging specialist at NASA's Spitzer Space Science Center in Pasadena, Calif, said in a written statement. "Instead, we've created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use."

Images by the satellites were taken from 172 days of observation over a 10-year period as part of the GLIMPSE (Galactic Legacy Infrared Midplane Extraordinaire) project.

A view from intergalactic space suggests the shape of Milky Way is a lot like flat disc. However the video makes it clear that from our vantage point most of the galaxy falls within a thin strip.

"That's why the GLIMPSE 360 panorama, which covers only 3 percent of the sky, captures over half of all the stars in the galaxy's disc and over 90 percent of regions where the stars are forming," the video's narrator says. "In this panorama we see stars shining brightest at the shorter infrared wavelengths, rendered in blue, while dust clouds light up at longer wavelengths, seen in red. Moreover infrared light can penetrate the dusty smog that fills our galaxy, letting us see wonders that are hidden in visible light."

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