This stunning image shows a vast sea of stars in the southern sky, such as NASA's satellite-hunting satellite, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS) in its first year of operation.
The image is divided into 13 sectors, each replicated by TESS for about a month to collect all the required data. In total, 208 images come together in a mosaic that shows almost the entire sky. The black bars in the image are places where there are gaps between the detectors in the TESS camera system.
In the center of the image, running from top to bottom, you can see the bright glow of the Milky Way. This is because our galaxy is disk-shaped, and when the disk is visible from the side-on it appears to be a thin white band. The image also shows the Orion Nebula, near the top, and our nearest expanse, the Large Magellanic Cloud, near the center. You can download a massive version of the high definition image here to see many stars in all their glory.
"TESS data analysis focuses on individual stars and planets individually, but I want to turn around and highlight them all at once, really emphasizing the amazing view that gives the whole sky, "Ethan Kruse, a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow who assembled the mosaic at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.
TESS uses its data collector to hunt for exoplanets. In its first year, the satellite discovered 29 exoplanets including a giant baby gas, near rocky planets, potentially seasonal planets, and even a planet where it should not. In total, it has collected over 20 terabytes of data along with an additional 1000 candidate planets currently under investigation.
Having mapped the southern sky, TESS will now discuss its north to spend the next year hunting for more exoplanets in the northern sky.