The European Southern Observatory has captured and analyzed an image of the center of our galaxy which, if printed at normal resolution, would measure 9 x 7 meters.

Just a hint of how the picture looks like. The full picture has not been released yet.

The enormous 9 gigapixel image features the very center of the Milky Way and was created not to be a background for huge screens, but to help study and understand our galaxy. Roberto Saito, the lead author of the study which took the picture explains:

“By observing in detail the myriads of stars surrounding the centre of the Milky Way we can learn a lot more about the formation and evolution of not only our galaxy, but also spiral galaxies in general.”

Spiral galaxies like the Milky Way have supermassive black holes at their center; also, the more you go towards that area, you will find older and older stars, but studying those stars is difficult because of the copious amounts of dust. The ESO says the survey has revealed a large number of faint red dwarf stars, which make good exoplanet candidates.

All in all, this is the first time the Milky Way’s bulge has been cataloged like this, the effort showcasing ten times more stars than previous efforts – something which researchers believe will greatly help future studies.

The results were published in Astronomy and Astrophysics