Of all the incredible machines that NASA orbits around the Earth right now, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is one of the most impressive. Its ultra-sensitive lenses can detect the smallest changes in the brightness of distant stars suggesting the presence of distant worlds. Each image that TESS sends back to Earth contains a wealth of information, and when you sew over 200 of them together you get a truly wonderful glimpse of our home galaxy.
In a new edition, NASA shows the amazing power of TESS with a panoramic view of the southern sky. It is the result of 208 TESS images that have been delicately shared, and the boy does a good job of making us feel small.
As you can see from the image above, there is a lot to take in here. The glowing arch that is prominent in the mosaic is our home galaxy, the Milky Way, the softening of stars and planets. Every little dot of light tells its own unique story. By comparing TESS images taken at different times, scientists can identify stars that are likely to be orbited by planets.
To date, TESS has discovered 29 confirmed exoplanets, but over 1,000 exoplanet candidates have already been discovered that will require further confirmation. The technology at work here is incredible, and the images that TESS produces are massive.
The image you see above is a very compressed thumbnail version of the original. If you really want to feel the full power of TESS, you can download the full-size version that measures a crazy 16 339 px by 16 339 px and weighs in at an incredible 205.1 MB.
"Analysis of TESS data focuses on individual stars and planets one at a time, but I wanted to go back and highlight everything at once and really emphasize the spectacular view that TESS gives us from all over the sky," explains NASA's Ethan Kruse, the one who collected the mosaic.
it's really spectacular, and there's a lot to melt. We still have no good idea of how many stars actually exist in the Milky Way, with estimates ranging from about 100 billion to over 300 billion. We can keep an eye on a good bit of them here, and it's hard not to imagine what's out there, just out of reach.