Astronomers have created a stunning mosaic of tiny star clusters lurking in the backyard of our galaxy.
The collection of images, released on Thursday, shows five massive star nurseries less than 1,500 light years away. One light year is equivalent to 9.7 trillion kilometers.
To get the atlas of stars, scientists put together more than a million photographs taken over five years by the European Southern Observatory in Chile. The observatory’s infrared survey telescope was able to peer through the dust cloud and distinguish it from small stars.
“We can detect even the faintest light sources, such as stars smaller than the sun, uncovering objects that no one has seen before,” said Stefan Meingast of the University of Vienna, who is the report’s lead author.
The observations, which were conducted from 2017 to 2022, will help researchers better understand how stars evolve from dust, Meingast added.
The findings, which appear in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, complement observations made by the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, which is orbiting nearly 1.5 million kilometers away.
Gaia focuses optical light, missing most objects obscured by cosmic dust, the researchers said.
Source : VOA News