back to article ESO's nine-gigapixel galactic image has 84 MILLION stars

The European Southern Observatory has captured and catalogued a giant image of the centre of our galaxy that, if printed at “normal resolution”, would measure 9 x 7 meters. The nine-gigapixel image from the VISTA telescope at Paranal Observatory – this is just a Web version – has been catalogued by an international team of …


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  1. Richard Boyce
    Thumb Up


    ... and I thought it was a long way down to the chemist's.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Isn't 108,200 x 81,500 the standard broadcast resolution in Japan?

    1. Annihilator

      Yeah, but it's largely pointless on the minituarised screens embedded in their watches

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "pointless on the minituarised screens embedded in their watches"

        Just means there is a good after-sale market for microscopes

  3. beardman

    so many millions of stars and planets...

    and we are still lonely here on this smallish bubble...

  4. NorthernCoder

    Someone has to say it...

    My God, it's full of stars!

    Mine's the one with the A. C. Clarke-book in the pocket

  5. Sebastian A


    Does anyone still think we're alone? How egocentric would that be.

    1. AceRimmer

      Re: So....

      Define alone... it's a big fucking distance to cross

    2. Lord Midas
      Thumb Up

      Re: So....

      I never did think we were alone. There's simply too many galaxies, with too many stars, with too many planets to assume that ours is only one with the right ingredients to create and sustain life.

      We can only hope that first contact is more in line with the Vulcans rather than the Borg.

    3. Annihilator

      Re: So....

      "Does anyone still think we're alone?"

      You fool! God's clearly up there! :-)

  6. MadCityObserver

    Asked in jest

    What's the file size of the complete image if it is recorded in "true color" using the BigTIFF file format? When will the entire image be made available online for download?

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Asked in jest

      Astronomers use FITS = Flexible Image Tape System. It typically uses 80 byte records called "card images". That alone shows its age.

      We are just adapting our code to handle FITS. I would love to put our parallel code through its paces on this image (biggest we have done so far is 3.9 Gpixel).

    2. Justin Stringfellow

      Re: Asked in jest

      The entire image *is* available for download:

      24.6GB, since you can't be bothered to look for yourself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Asked in jest

        Explains why I was just elected to the ATT Hall of Fame.

        Sent from my iPhone

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Asked in jest

          You'll need an astronomical amout of RAM to open it.

  7. Mage Silver badge

    Great stuff

    Now all we need is a Star ship (generation/city in space or warp), or star gate or similar.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It would have been an even clearer picture....

    .....If they'd wiped the lense first to get rid of that brown smear across the top of it.

  9. imanidiot Silver badge

    And they looked upon the universe spread before them

    and casually decided: "It'll have to go"

    I'll get my coat

    1. Peter Murphy

      Re: And they looked upon the universe spread before them

      Blow up the picture to a couple of metres height, and bend it so that the walls make a cylinder. The radius would be measured in metres as well. Then sit in the middle.

      It's a DIY Total Perspective Vortex.

  10. AndrueC Silver badge

    I think I see a UFO!

  11. Crisp Silver badge

    Simply Amazing

    And the best thing to come out of Vista ever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simply Amazing

      Just wait til they launch the Windows 7 observatory! All those bugs and slow running will disappear...

  12. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Interesting name...

    So, South = Paranal? North must then be Paracranial?

    Wouldn't inhabitants of the South Hemisphere be slightly put off by such classification?

  13. Ben 50

    It's not just a big distance to cross... there's a lot of history

    When you consider how long life on earth has been around compared to galactic/universe time scales (difficult to find enough noughts), what are the odds that two occurances of "life" (however you wish to define it) would overlap in time, let alone space?

    1. I think so I am?

      Re: It's not just a big distance to cross... there's a lot of history

      Yep, I think we are likely alone for our tiny point in space time

    2. Annihilator

      Re: It's not just a big distance to cross... there's a lot of history

      Pretty high - life started on Earth (and effectively the universe) pretty much as soon as was practically possible. Very broad stroke, but in terms of the universe forming and going through the various stages of element creation through the various stars up to Population I stars (like ours) and a surrounding solar system, the formation of the earth, life started pretty much (in astronomical terms) as soon as the conditions were right.

      If we assume the rest of the Population I stars underwent a similar cycle (and no reason to doubt they didn't) makes it extremely likely that life would start on similar timescales across the universe.

      In short, for a lot of history across the universe, life wasn't possible. And even without that, we know that life on Earth has existed for about 1/6 of the universe's life.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's not just a big distance to cross... there's a lot of history

        I always thought that it was a bit of an anomaly with nature. In the context of the Sun and the Earth, the universe is really quite large. However, it the same context, its not really that old at all.

  14. Colin Miller

    Wall mosaic

    If you were to print that out onto a sheet of A0 paper (1189x841mm), you'd achieve 2318 dpi (90 dpmm )

    Does anyone have a 1000 dpi A0 colour printer who could print it onto 4 non-overlapping sheet please?

  15. guitarman

    "the survey has revealed a large number of faint red dwarf stars"

    My guess is they mistakenly pointed the VISTA telescope at the Dave channel.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stunning to know your place in the universe and how much of a nothing you really are in the grand scheme of things, maybe there's some way I can wangle that into the next pointless service call I get to reset the password of some dingbat who can't even remember a string of 9 characters for more than 5 minutes!

  17. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Still no sign

    of my car keys though!

  18. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Wait !!!!!

    83,999,997, ... better hold on to that Press Release just a momment ... 83,999,998, 83,999,999 ... oops.

  19. DanceMan

    Re: so many millions of stars and planets...

    My thoughts too. All those stars are merely one galaxy. Some of these images we've seen contain clusters of galaxies. My puny human mind cannot comprehend how vast the universe is.

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