ESO, the European Southern Observatory has put together the most detailed image of our galaxy's bulge. The image covers a ginormous 9 giga pixels area and can only be enjoyed piece by piece.
But, while the image is quite fun, your entertainment wasn't high on the astronomers' list of priorities.
Rather, the image is the result of the largest ever survey of that portion of the sky and is the most comprehensive catalog of its kind ever created.
In total, the image and the catalog contain 84 million stars, 10 times more than any previous such study. It is also the first to contain the entire galactic bulge.
The image was put together using ESO's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), using five near infrared filters. Infrared light has a better chance of passing through the gas and dust that scattered in our galaxy, particularly near the center.
The original, full size image (654.1 mb) is here
, but you can see the zoomable version here
. The tool is a bit slow, but it's definitely worth the wait.