This 1.6 Billion Pixel Image Of A Galaxy Is The Largest Of Its Kind

Space is so unfathomably big that trying to get your head around it is an easy way to give yourself a headache.

Try not to dwell on that for too long then as you take in this; an astonishing 1.6 billion pixel image of a dwarf galaxy taken by the European Space Agency’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope.

What you’re looking at is the largest image ever taken of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that makes up one of our two closest neighbours.

Despite being located over 200,000 light years away VISTA was still able to capture an image with a resolution of 43,223 x 38,236.

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If you want to get up close and personal with the SMG then the ESA rather handily has a zoomable version of the image which you can view here.

On the other hand if you wanted to download it then you’ve got a 4.4GB download to contend with.

What is VISTA?

VISTA is the largest survey telescope in the world and it is dedicated to mapping the sky at near-infrared wavelengths.

The camera is a marvel in itself, weighing some three tonnes it needs to be constantly cooled to -200 degrees celsius while in operation.

Every night the camera collects around 315GB of information from its observations.

VISTA’s 4.1m mirror is the most highly curved mirror ever made of this size and quality — with deviations from a perfect surface of less than 1/3000th of the thickness of a human hair.

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