A new survey of the Milky Way has been released containing more than 3 billion objects, making it one of the largest astronomical catalogs ever produced. The second data release of the Dark Energy Camera Plane Survey, or DECaPS2, focuses on the galactic plane, which is the view looking across the disk of the galaxy where most of the stars are located and which covers 6.5% of the night sky. .
The data set is available to astronomers to use in their research, but is also available to the public to view online in a web browser. The Legacy Survey Viewer displays a variety of different survey images – you can select DECaPS2 images in the top right box to see the new data, and zoom in and out using the slider in the top left.
The Galactic plane is difficult to visualize because there are so many stars, which can overlap when seen from Earth, and because there is a lot of dust, which you can see as the dark swirls in the image above and behind which they can hide stars. . So the survey looked in near-infrared wavelengths that can see through the dust to get a better view, to create a 3D view of the galaxy.
“One of the main reasons for the success of DECaPS2 is that we simply focused on a region with a very high density of stars and were careful to identify sources that appear almost on top of each other,” said the lead author of a survey paper, Andrew Saydjari from the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, in a statement. “This enabled us to produce the largest catalog of its kind ever from a single camera, in terms of the number of objects observed.”
The total number of objects visible in the dataset numbers 3.32 billion, and is the result of 10 terabytes of data from 21,400 individual exposures taken using the Dark Energy Camera in Chile.
“This is a technical achievement. Imagine a group photo of over three billion people and every single person is recognizable!” said Debra Fischer of the National Science Foundation, which funded the Dark Energy Camera. “Astronomers will be looking at this detailed portrait of more than three billion stars in the Milky Way for years to come. This is a great example of what partnerships across federal agencies can achieve.”