This 46-Gigapixel photo of the Milky Way will blow your mind

The image was taken over a 5 year period

Milky Way

Astronomers have put together what they are claiming the largest astronomical image to date in a stunning 46 gigapixel composite image of the Milky Way.

The astronomers at Germany's Ruhr-Universität Bochum photographed long section of the Milky Way over a period of five years from the university's observatory located in a desert in Chile.

In its entirety, the composite is made up of 268 images, with the university saying that 50,000 new variable objects have been discovered by the researchers so far thanks to the project.

Exploring the stars

The image, which is about 855,000 pixels wide by 54,000 tall, is about 194 gigabytes in size, so while you can't download the image, the university has created an online viewer that you can explore for yourself.

"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 involved with the project told CBS News.

Using the online tool, you can zoom into specific areas of the Milky Way, or to make it even easier, you can even search for a specific object or star.

"If the user types in 'Eta Carinae', for example, the tool moves to the respective star; the search term 'M8' leads to the lagoon nebula," the university said. You can check it out for yourself here.

Image credit: Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB

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