Scientists Have Made a Detailed Map of the Milky Way

milky way galaxy map
This map depicts the radiation from neutral atomic hydrogen (HI) across the entire sky, as seen by the Parkes and Effelsberg radio telescopes. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, appears as a luminous band across the sky with the Galactic Center in the middle. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are prominently visible in orange below the Galactic plane. They are surrounded by huge clouds of gas, forcefully disrupted from their hosts by gravitational interaction with the Milky Way. The HI emissions of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) and its neighbor, Triangulum (M33), are also easy to spot as bright purple ellipses in the lower left. The gas motion is color-coded to represent the gas’s motion, and the visual brightness in the image relates to how much neutral hydrogen is present. Click for bigger image. HI4PI Collaboration

An international team of astrophysicists has made one of the most detailed maps of the Milky Way far. They are united by the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), which publishes the map and survey data.

It shows the distribution of neutral atomic hydrogen in the galaxy. This is the element with the greatest abundance in the Universe and is essential for Galaxies and Stars. The HI4PI project has explored this through over a million individual observations and around 10 billion individual information points.

Although hydrogen is abundant in the Universe, detecting it with sufficient detail for mapping has been a great challenge. “Radio noise” from mobile phones and telecommunication infrastructure obstructs telescopes. So scientists have made computer algorithms to “clear” the signal. They have processed thousands of hours of observations, and then the scientists themselves have checked the data.

For observation, a 100-meter radio telescope in Germany and a 64-meter radio telescope in Australia were used. The collected information creates a map that is twice as detailed as ever. Even the details of the cloud structures of hydrogen between the stars can be seen. They play a role in star formation and their observation in more detail can help explain how stars are formed.

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