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NASA creates eye-popping 160-megapixel image of our two nearest galaxies (video)

Melissa Grey, @meligrey
June 4, 2013
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NASA is determined to bring the final frontier closer than ever -- or at least a small, photographic slice of it. Using NASA's Swift satellite, astrophysicists at Goddard Space Flight Center and Pennsylvania State University were able to create a stunningly detailed survey of the two galaxies closest to us: the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds. The 160-megapixel image was painstakingly stitched together using thousands of smaller photographs captured with Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope. Rendering the galaxies in UV wavelengths allows researchers to study details unseen in visible light images, like individual stars surrounding the Tarantula Nebula in the LMC (the large pink cluster in the photo above). This high-res mosaic provides ample opportunity to study the life cycles of stars, from birth to death, in detail astrophysicists could previously only dream about. Fancy a tour? Check out the video after the break -- or journey on past the source link to download the 457MB TIFF.

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