Ever wondered what it would be like to travel to the center of the Milky Way? Now you can find out. Sort of.
The Hubble Space Telescope stared deep into the heart of our own galaxy to capture a mesmerizing image of its nuclear star cluster.
Scientists then used the detailed picture to produce a stunning video (above), which starts with a broad view of the Milky Way and zooms viewers into its center.
The nuclear cluster, containing half a million stars, surrounds the galaxy's central "supermassive black hole," according to a statement on Hubble's website.
"So packed with stars, it is equivalent to having a million suns crammed into the volume of space between us and our closest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light-years away,” the statement adds.
It's almost impossible to spot the cluster, located 27,000 light-years away, with the naked eye. Astronomers used infrared vision to "pierce through" the galaxy's dust. They then translated the infrared light into colors we can see.
The image from which the video was made (below) spans 50 light-years across and was stitched together from 9 separate photographs taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. The larger blue foreground stars are not part of the cluster.
"The 'snowstorm' of stars in the image is just the tip of the iceberg: Astronomers estimate that about 10 million stars in this cluster are too faint to be captured in this image," the statement says.