Scientists get a startling view of a distant galaxy

Scientists are able to see a nearby galaxy with record-breaking clarity. That's thanks to new infrared technology. While it is relatively close, the dwarf galaxy is still some 200,000 light years away.

RELATED: Gorgeous new Milky Way image maps our galaxy's dust

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Gorgeous new Milky Way image maps our galaxy's dust
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Gorgeous new Milky Way image maps our galaxy's dust

A spectacular new image of the Milky Way has been released to mark the completion of the APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy (ATLASGAL). The APEX telescope in Chile has mapped the full area of the Galactic Plane visible from the southern hemisphere for the first time at submillimetre wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves — and in finer detail than recent space-based surveys. The pioneering 12-metre APEX telescope allows astronomers to study the cold Universe: gas and dust only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero.

(Photo via ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium/ESA/Planck)

The southern plane of the Milky Way from the ATLASGAL survey.

(Photo via ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium/ESA/Planck)

The southern plane of the Milky Way from the ATLASGAL survey (annotated).

(Photo via ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium/ESA/Planck)

Comparison of the central part of the Milky Way at different wavelengths.

(Photo via ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium/ESA/Planck)

Comparison of the central part of the Milky Way at different wavelengths (annotated).

(Photo via ESO/APEX/ATLASGAL consortium/NASA/GLIMPSE consortium/ESA/Planck)

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The Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy can be seen with the unaided eye, but a clear view is impossible due to clouds of interstellar dust. However, the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope (VISTA) in Chile created an amazingly clear image. That will allow astronomers to map star formations in the dwarf galaxy and their three-dimensional structures.

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