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Jamie Carter, Contributor

The New 83 Megapixel Photo Of Our Sun Is One Of Five Astonishing Hi-Rez Space Images You Must See And Download

A low-res version of the high resolution image of the Sun from Solar Orbiter. ESA & NASA/Solar Orbiter/EUI team; Data processing: E. Kraaikamp (ROB)

A few weeks ago I wrote about a ground-breaking new 83 megapixel photo of the Sun taken from half way between Earth and the Sun on March 7, 2022 by the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft.

It’s a beautiful image that, if you zoom in, shows our star’s filaments and flares in stunning detail. Wow!

There are some great photos coming to us from space all the time—including just a few days ago from NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter—but there are some others that you have just got to see.

While we wait for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Vera Rubin Observatory’s 3.2 gigapixel camera (the largest digital camera ever created) to come online later this year, here’s our pick of the best high resolution space images around—and where you can download them for free:

This striking view of the central parts of the Milky Way was obtained with the VISTA survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. This huge picture is 108 200 by 81 500 pixels and contains nearly nine billion pixels. It was created by combining thousands of individual images from VISTA, taken through three different infrared filters, into a single monumental mosaic. These data form part of the VVV public survey and have been used to study a much larger number of individual stars in the central parts of the Milky Way than ever before. Because VISTA has a camera sensitive to infrared light it can see through much of the dust blocking the view for optical telescopes, although many more opaque dust filaments still show up well in this picture. This image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution and is best appreciated using the zoom tool. Read about the composition of this 9 gigapixel image in this newsletter. ESO/VVV Survey/D. MinnitiAcknowl

1. VISTA’s 9-gigapixel mosaic of the central Milky Way (2012)

Thought the Sun image was ultra hi-rez? This image of the core of our Milky Way galaxy measures a stunning 108,200 x 81,500 pixels and contains nearly nine billion pixels. It was taken by the European Southern Observatory’s VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) wide-field reflecting telescope in Chile, which has a 4.1 metre mirror. The image is a combination of thousands of images taken through three infrared filters.

You can download it in full resolution or zoom in on it online.

The Hubble Legacy Field, includes several Hubble deep-field surveys, including the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), the deepest view of the universe. NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth and D. Magee (University of California, Santa Cruz), K. Whitaker (University of Connecticut), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), P. Oesch (University of Geneva,) and the Hubble Legacy Field team

2. Hubble’s 650-megapixel Legacy Field (2019)

Ready to look back in time? The Hubble Space Telescope has taken some incredible images of the deep sky over the years, many of which were used to assemble this mosaic of the distant universe that contains 265,000 galaxies that date back a mind-boggling13.3 billion years. It’s a combination of almost 7,500 separate Hubble exposures over 16 years.

You can download it in full resolution or zoom in on it online.

Partially processed view of the Tycho Crater at a resolution of nearly five meters by five meters and containing approximately 1.4 billion pixels, taken during a radar project by Green Bank Observatory, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and Raytheon Intelligence & Space using the Green Bank Telescope and antennas in the Very Long Baseline Array. This image covers an area 200km by 175km, which is large enough to contain the 86km-diameter Tycho Crater. NRAO/GBO/Raytheon/NSF/AUI

3. Green Bank Telescope’s 1.4-gigapixel radar image of Tycho Crater on the Moon (2021)

Last year saw the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia release this extraordinary close-up of one of the Moon’s most obvious craters. You can see it with your own eyes on the southern polar area of the Moon, with this stunningly detailed image covering a 200 x 175 kilometer area. It’s actually a radar image obtained using the GBT and antennas from the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) in Socorro, New Mexico.

You can download it in full resolution.

This magnificent 360-degree panoramic image, covering the entire southern and northern celestial sphere, reveals the cosmic landscape that surrounds our tiny blue planet. This gorgeous starscape serves as the first of three extremely high-resolution images featured in the GigaGalaxy Zoom project, launched by ESO within the framework of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). The plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, which we see edge-on from our perspective on Earth, cuts a luminous swath across the image. The projection used in GigaGalaxy Zoom place the viewer in front of our Galaxy with the Galactic Plane running horizontally through the image — almost as if we were looking at the Milky Way from the outside. From this vantage point, the general components of our spiral galaxy come clearly into view, including its disc, marbled with both dark and glowing nebulae, which harbours bright, young stars, as well as the Galaxy’s central bulge and its satellite galaxies. As filming extended over several months, objects from the Solar System came and went through the star fields, with bright planets such as Venus and Jupiter. For copyright reasons, we cannot provide here the full 800-million-pixel original image, which can be requested from Serge Brunier. The high resolution image provided here contains 18 million pixels. ESO/S. Brunier

4. VISTA’s 800-megapixel Milky Way panorama (2009)

Here’s another stunning image from VISTA, this time encompassing the night sky as seen from both the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere. Published in 2000 as ninth as part of the project, it shows the galactic plane, with the bright galactic core in the centre of the image.

You can download an 18 megapixel version.

This image, captured with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the largest and sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy — otherwise known as M31. This is a cropped version of the full image and has 1.5 billion pixels. You would need more than 600 HD television screens to display the whole image. It is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40 000 light-years. This image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution and is best appreciated using the zoom tool. NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton (Univer

5. Hubble’s 1.6-gigapixel mosaic of the Andromeda Galaxy (2015)

The most distant object you can see with your naked eyes at around 2.5 million light-years, the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is our sister galaxy and contains around a trillion stars. You can see it with binoculars (and even naked-eye if you’re in a really dark place) between September and March, but also in this, the largest and sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy, by the Hubble Space Telescope. It shows just a small section of the disk, which nevertheless contains over 100 million stars stretching across over 40,000 light-years.

You can download it in full resolution or zoom in on it online.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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