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ESO releases stunning new view of the Milky Way

Washington: The European Southern Observatory has released a stunning image showing the full view of the Milky Way from the Southern Hemisphere.

The enormous image has been stitched together by scientist from more than 700 observations by the APEX telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert. The image reveals finer details of the galaxy than seen in earlier images, including several places where new stars are born, including the mysterious Galactic Center. The image also shows cold regions where dust and gas hover mere fractions of a degree above absolute zero.

The image is significant because it is the first time that galaxy's southern half has been imaged in sub-millimeter wavelengths- light between infrared and radio waves. Scientists have combined views using different wavelengths of light and added extra layers of detail. In the image, the new telescope data shows up in red against an infrared background image, which has been rendered in blue, rom an earlier scan by the Planck satellite of the ESA.

Since we live in the Milky Way, our view of the galaxy from Earth is edge-on from the inside, so it appears as a band all the way across the sky. Skywatchers usually refer to this band as the Milky Way, but actually all the stars we see in the night sky are part of the galaxy.

The European Southern Observatory said the data for this image alone took more than 400 hours of telescope time over three years to collect.