Biggest ever infra-red image of the sky

01 Aug 2017 11:14:58.927
The largest infra-red image of the sky ever taken has been released today by astronomers from the University of Nottingham.

The image is a whopping 1.5 million mega pixels and has detected nearly two billion stars and galaxies. It is the culmination of over ten years work on an international project to image the northern sky in the infra-red part of the spectrum.
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The image has been captured using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT). This is a 3.8m telescope located near the summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on Hawaii. The telescope is dedicated to observing the sky in the infrared part of the spectrum, giving astronomers a view of the processes which shape the formation of stars and galaxies at wavelengths invisible to human eyes.

Dr Simon Dye from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Nottingham is the lead project scientist and is supported by Prof Andy Lawrence, principal investigator from the Institute for Astronomy at Edinburgh University. 

Dr Dye says; “Releasing this image is a hugely exciting moment for astronomy. It  gives the clearest view we have ever seen of the northern sky in the infra-red. This is a significant milestone, providing an important database with a high legacy value for astronmers in years to come.”

Completion of the project has been made possible by a partnership between the UK Science Technology and Facilities Council, the University of Hawaii, the University of Arizona, Lockheed Martin and NASA.

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


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Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager (Faculty of Science)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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Published Date
Wednesday 14th June 2017

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