You've never seen the Milky Way quite like this.
A new panoramic view of our galaxy is the result of 2.5 million images captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope -- and is the clearest video tour of the galaxy yet made. Just check it out above.
"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."
The images were taken from 172 days of observations over a decade-long period as part of the GLIMPSE (Galactic Legacy Infrared Midplane Extraordinaire) project. From intergalactic space, the Milky Way looks a lot like a flat disc, but from our vantage point in the video we can see that 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."
Our cosmic home sure is a thing of beauty.