STAR POWER

A breathtaking photo of a constellation 4,000 light-years from Earth is the most detailed ever of that region

A cool 24 quadrillion miles out.
A cool 24 quadrillion miles out.
Image: ESO
By
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Roughly 4,000 light-years (about 24 quadrillion miles) away from Earth in a particularly happening region of the universe full of star clusters, nebulae, and a star-forming molecular cloud, there is a constellation known as Ara.

Now, hot off the presses of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in the Chilean Andes, we have a new image of Ara that is the most detailed ever captured. The image is massive, with the uncompressed version weighing in at 324 megapixels and a hulking 808 megabytes. If you’re feeling bold, you can download it (and other, smaller versions) here.

Here’s the image, in uncropped glory:

Image for article titled A breathtaking photo of a constellation 4,000 light-years from Earth is the most detailed ever of that region

At the image’s center is a cluster of very bright stars known as NGC 6193. Each of these stars is around 100,000 times brighter than our sun (as measured by the stars’ luminosity, or the power emitted in the form of photons). That brightness obscures the area around the cluster, making the stars look like headlights shining through fog. Here’s a closeup:

Image for article titled A breathtaking photo of a constellation 4,000 light-years from Earth is the most detailed ever of that region
Image: ESO