February 25, 2016 #ChileDiverse #Science and Knowledge.

The most detailed image of the Milky Way from the Atacama Desert is achieved

A scientific team recently completed the most complete map of the Milky Way to date. The image was released by ESO (European Southern Observatory), an intergovernmental science and technology organization, as the milestone commemorating the completion of the ATLASGAL survey, an exploration of a large portion of the Galaxy.

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The APEX (Atacama Pathfinder Experiment - Experimento Pionero de Atacama) instrument, a 12-meter diameter telescope operating at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths, installed on the Chajnantor plateau, was used for this purpose.

The telescope mapped the entire area of the Galactic plane observable from the Southern Hemisphere in greater detail than any other survey to date, including those from space. In an unprecedented achievement, the gas distribution and star-forming regions of the Galaxy were captured with great precision, generating an image of 187 million pixels.

Carlos De Breuck, an ESO scientist, told BBC Mundo that astronomers have "a general idea of how stars form from the condensation of gas clouds, but details are lacking. To know, for example, which stars form from what kind of clouds, we need more information, we need to map the entire galaxy to determine under what conditions they are generated". Thus, the map that resulted from this large survey will allow them to explore the interstellar medium of our galaxy, serving at the same time as a platform for new discoveries.

Scientists from the University of Chile, ESO, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy participated in this important project.

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

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