Stunning photo of the Milky Way took 12 YEARS for photographer to capture – revealing 20million stars

A DILIGENT space fan has released a stunning snap of our Milky Way galaxy that took 12 YEARS to put together.

Finnish photographer J-P Metsavainio posted the enormous image, which encompasses 20million stars, online this week.

The piece was formed by stitching together hundreds of composite images, which themselves are made up of lots of long-exposure photos.

The final product is a whopping 100,000 pixels wide, racking up a total exposure time of 1,250 hours between 2009 and 2021.

"It took almost twelve years to finalize this mosaic image," Metsavainio wrote on his blog, Astro Anarchy.

"The reason for a long time period is naturally the size of the mosaic and the fact that the image is very deep."

Metsavainio said he shot most of the mosaic frames – 234 in total – as individual compositions. He has published them as independent works.

"That leads to a kind of complex image set which is partly overlapping with a lot of unimaged areas between and around frames," he wrote.

"I have shot the missing data now and then during the years and last year I was able to publish many sub mosaic images as I got them ready first."

Metsavainio has been publishing his astrophotography online since 2007 – and the mosaic is by far his biggest work to date.

Stitching the images together was a matter of matching stars and overlaying them in Photoshop, he said.

Minor tweaks were made between frames to match colour balance and light curves.

The hues in each photo represent emissions from ionized elements: Hydrogen is shown in green, oxygen in blue and sulfur in red.

"I think this is the first image ever showing the Milky Way in this resolution and depth at all three color channels," Metsavainio told photography website PetaPixel.

Milky Way facts

Here’s what you need to know…

  • The Milky Way galaxy is home to Earth and is almost as old as the Universe itself
  • Recently estimates suggest the Universe is around 13.7billion years old, while the Milky Way is thought to be 13.6billion years old
  • The Milky Way is disk-shaped and measures about 120,000 light years across
  • It has a supermassive black hole in the middle called Sagittarius A*
  • Our galaxy is thought to be home to more than 200billion stars
  • It is thought to have an invisible halo made of dark matter


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In other news, water that once flowed over the surface of Mars is now trapped within its crust, a Nasa-funded study revealed this week.

Nasa has announced that it is accepting applications for wannabe space explorers who wish to fire their names to the Red Planet.

And, Perseverance revealed stunning video and audio recordings from the surface of the Red Planet last month.

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