It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Colourful, swirling clouds of cosmic dust interspersed with glowing star clusters are revealed in this extraordinary image of the Milky Way.
The dazzling image combining reds, yellows, blues and purples, was created by layering stunningly detailed pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory on top of each other.
The Milky Way is at the centre of our own galaxy and this image shows its core. The image was created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first demonstration of his telescope.
The three space observatories peered into the central region of the Milky Way, which is 26,000 light years from Earth. One light year is nearly 6 million million miles, the distance light travels in a year.
The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy, which is a galaxy with spiral arms and a central bar-shaped structure composed of stars. Our solar system sits half-way along the minor Orion arm on the inner rim. The arm or 'spur' is named due to its proximity to stars in the Orion constellation.
Scientists were able to see through the obscuring dust and into the intense activity near the galactic core using infrared light and X-rays.
They created an image 250 light years across with the width of the picture covering about the same angular width as the full Moon.
The image reflects the spirit of international cooperation in astronomical research as the Hubble Telescope is a collaboration between the European Space Agency and Nasa. Both Spitzer and Chandra are part of the American space agency's observatories programme.
Each telescope's contribution has been presented in a different colour. Yellow represents the near-infrared observations of Hubble, which is better known for its astonishing visible-light pictures.
These infrared observations outline the most active regions where stars are being born and reveal hundreds of thousands of stars.
Young fertile galaxies give birth to stars such as the sun at a ''runaway'' rate of up to 50 a year, astronomers have learned.
The discovery shows that ''stellar nurseries'' within early galaxies similar to our own were producing stars far more rapidly than was previously thought.
Astronomers looked back 12.5 billion years to study one of the most distant galaxies known, MS1358arc.
Light from the galaxy began its journey across the universe just one billion years after the Big Bang that created the cosmos.
''Gravitational lensing'' was used to magnify the galaxy by making use of the way its light bent round a nearby galaxy cluster.
Using this technique the scientists were able to observe rapid bursts of star formation.
New stars were being created in the galaxy's star-forming regions at a rate 100 times faster than had earlier been predicted.
Measuring 6,000 light years across, the collection of stars was expected to evolve into a spiral galaxy similar to our own, the Milky Way.
The findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, were based on observations from the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii and Nasa's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.