The Largest Photo Of Space Is So Huge, We Can't Even Show It To You

At 46 billion pixels, you have to use an interactive online tool just to view it.

Remember that breathtaking image of the Andromeda galaxy the Hubble Space Telescope released in January, which uses 1.5 billion pixels to show 100 million stars?

Consider it dwarfed.

Astronomers in Germany have compiled the largest astronomical image to date -- a photo of our Milky Way with 46 billion pixels. It's so massive, in fact, that you have to use an interactive online tool just to view it.

This is just a small section of the Milky Way photo showing Eta Carinae.
This is just a small section of the Milky Way photo showing Eta Carinae.

Astronomers at Ruhr University Bochum have been monitoring our galaxy for five years in search of changing objects in the sky.

In addition to discovering more than 50,000 objects, the team pieced together 268 individual images into a 196-gigabyte file -- that's equivalent to the capacity of more than a dozen 16-gigabyte iPhones. 

Anyone can use the online tool to view the complete ribbon of the Milky Way at a glance, or zoom in and inspect specific areas, according to a news release. They can also use an input window to search for specific objects. If a user types in "Eta Carinae," for example, the tool moves to the respective star, and typing "M8" shows the lagoon nebula.

As for how many stars can be seen in the photo, your guess is as good as ours.

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Stunning Milky Way