We talked to the Spitzer Space Telescope’s visualisation team about the challenges and rewards of rendering the mission’s reams of non-visual data into something that catches the public eye.
Astronomers estimate that there are 200 to 400 billion stars in our galactic neighbourhood, the Milky Way. I guess that someone tried to count them in this fully-zoomable, ultra-high-definition 800,000-image mosaic and got tired around 296,351,284,702.
See that tiny dot in the middle of that ring? That’s Saturn. And the newly-discovered glowing ring is 13.4 million miles in diameter. The proverbial 360kg gorilla has been discovered by the Spitzer Space Telescope, leaving every single astronomer speechless.