This striking image shows the vast sea of stars in the southern sky, as presented by NASA's Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in its first year of operation .
The image is divided into 13 sectors, each of which TESS has been processing for close to a month to collect all the necessary data. A total of 208 images were stitched into this mosaic that shows almost all of the southern sky. The black bars in the image are areas where there are gaps between detectors in the TESS camera system.
In the middle of the image, going 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 edge, it looks like a thin white band. The image shows both the Orion Nebula near the top and our neighboring galaxy, the Great Magellanic Cloud, just near the center. You can download the massive HD version here to see the many stars in all their glory.
"TESS's data analysis focuses on individual stars and planets one by one, but I wanted to step back and emphasize everything at once, really highlighting the incredible view that TESS gives us all over the sky," Ethan Cruz says in a statement , a NASA doctoral fellow who assembled the mosaic at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
TESS uses the data it collects for exoplanet hunting. In its first year, the satellite found 29 exoplanets, including a baby gas giant, close rocky planets, sweat planets, and even planets where one shouldn't be. In total, he has collected more than 20 terabytes of data, including 1,000 more candidate planets currently under study.
Having outlined the southern sky, TESS now will focus its focus on the north to hunt more exoplanets in the northern sky next year.