This view of the central parts of the Milky Way was obtained with the VISTA survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The huge picture contains nearly nine billion pixels and was created by combining thousands of individual infrared images from VISTA into a single monumental mosaic. The image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution.
This very wide-field view of the Milky Way shows the extent of the 84-million-star VISTA infrared image of the center of the galaxy (delineated by red rectangle).
This view compares a huge mosaic in infrared light from the VISTA survey telescope and a visible-light mosaic view of the same region taken with a small telescope. Because VISTA has a camera sensitive to infrared light it can see through much of the dust blocking the view and give a very clear view of the multitude of stars in the central parts of the Milky Way.
This diagram plots the brightnesses of more than 84 million stars in the central part of the Milky Way against their colours, measured from many VISTA images as part of the VVV survey. This is the first time that such a colour–magnitude diagram has been made for the entire Galactic bulge and creates the richest colour–magnitude diagram ever assembled. Brighter stars appear towards the top, fainter towards the bottom and redder stars to the right and bluer ones to the left. Most stars lie in the yellow regions, with fewer in the bluer parts of the diagram. More evolved red giant stars appear at the upper-right and fainter dwarfs at the bottom.
This infrared view of the central part of the Milky Way from the VVV VISTA survey has been labelled to show a selection of the many nebulae and clusters in this part of the sky. Messier 8 (the Lagoon Nebula), Messier 20 (the Trifid Nebula), NGC 6357 (the War and Peace Nebula) and NGC 6334 (the Cat's Paw Nebula) are all easily seen nebulae. The remaining labelled objects are all globular star clusters.
The VISTA telescope in its dome at Paranal Observatory. It has a main mirror that is 4.1 meters across, being by far the largest telescope in the world dedicated to surveying the sky at near-infrared wavelengths. Image released December 3, 2009.