NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Near-infrared view of the Milky Way, the first image to show the distribution of stars within our Galaxy. The stars form a thin disc with a thicker central bulge; we are embedded in the disc some 28,000 light years from the centre. The image was obtained by the Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment aboard the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite. It combines images made at the infrared wavelengths of 1.2, 2.2 and 3.4 microns, represented respectively in blue, green & red. The stars in the disc appear reddened due to absorption by intervening interstellar dust. The dust prevents astronomers from viewing the centre the Galaxy at all in visible light.
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