​Largest space map ever made shows Milky Way in 46 billion pixels

A small section of the Milky Way photo showing Eta Carinae

Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB

Astronomers at the Ruhr-Universitat Bochum in Germany have created the largest image of space ever compiled.

Comprising 268 individual images taken over five years, the photo shows the entire ribbon of the Milky Way in a mind-boggling 46 billion pixels. The complete image measures 855,000 by 54,000 pixels -- about 2,000 times the size of a picture taken with a 20-megapixel digital camera.

"If you would want to display this in full resolution on full HD TV screens, you would need more than 22,000 screens," Moritz Hackstein, a PhD candidate who conducted the space survey, told CBS News.

At a whopping 194 gigabytes, the image file is about four orders of magitude larger than a high-res picture on your computer, or about the size of a 20,000-song mp3 library.

screen-shot-2015-10-22-at-3-12-31-pm.png
The full Milky Way image
Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB

Hackstein worked with professors at the university to create an online visualization tool that lets you see the full galactic image and zoom in for a closer look. (It takes a while to load, naturally. Be patient.)

You can type the name of a star to in the search box to go to that part of picture. A search for the term "M8" leads to the lagoon nebula:

milky-way-2-1021milchstrasse2clsastrophysik.jpg

A small section of the Milky Way photo showing the M8 nebula

Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB
  • Amanda Schupak

    Amanda Schupak is the science and technology editor at CBSNews.com