First Full-Sky Map Produced By eROSITA/Spektr-RG

Elliot Levey |
milky way galaxy, space
The blue line in the middle is the Milky Way.

A German/Russian space program has advanced the field of intergalactic observation and discovery. An instrument specialized to take x-ray images, called the eROSITA mounted on the Spektr-RG, has just rendered some totally wild images of our universe. To give a sense of awesomeness, the image-producing instrument has been placed in orbit around our earth a cool 1.5 million kilometers out in space.

satellite in space
Artist depiction of the incredible eROSITA in space. PC:

A quick explanation of how the eROSITA works: the instrument sends out a signal (x-ray), the signals bounce off objects, and returns the to instrument’s sensors. Science does its thing and compiles an image from the sensory information received. The objects eROSITA is after, which again are on absolutely massive scales, are galaxy clusters, stars, remnants of supernovas, giant masses of gas, black holes, and other cosmic wonders. The amount of information gathered by eROSITA in the last 6 months matches the entire x-ray imaging database of deep space collected over the last 60 years.

supernova from a star, space
The Vela Supernova was left behind by a collapsing star only 800 light-years from earth.

Kirpal Nandra, director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and leader on this project, explains the ongoing plan for eROSITA. They intend to gather images over the next 3.5 years. This first total mapping image marks the first out of a desired 8 total mappings. They have identified a, “…nice sample already – maybe around 10,000. [galaxy clusters].” The goal is to map 100,000 galaxy clusters. That’s immensely wild considering there are roughly 200-400 BILLION stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

galaxy clusters
This is a galaxy cluster, and the image is on the scale of lightyears. PC:
milky way galaxy stars, space
One expanded cross-section of the Milky Way. PC: NASA

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