There are more than a billion stars in this one amazing photo

Image: ESA

The European Space Agency has pulled data from its Gaia satellite to create the largest map of the Milky Way to date.

Gaia has been collecting data for 14 months with the aim of creating a comprehensive 3D map of our galaxy, so consider this just a taste of what to expect:

Click to enlarge. Image: ESA

It took some 450 scientists and software engineers from 20 countries to convert Gaia’s data into the picture above. That’s information on 1,142 million stars, at double the precision level of anything attempted before.

Here it is again including the positions of galaxies and various types of clusters:

Click to enlarge. Image: ESA

There’s also an amazing visualisation of the data here, if you’re in the mood for being made to feel small.

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