A Finnish photographer has posted an image of the Milky Way he's worked on for the past 12 years. The breathtaking photo showing 20 million stars itself consists of 234 mosaics that J-P Metsavainio stitched together in Photoshop, using stars as a guide to match the shots. The image features such unique celestial objects as the world's first discovered black hole Cygnus X-1 as well as the remains of three supernovae (a stellar explosion that occurs at the end of a star's lifetime).
Milky Way, 12 years, 1250 hours of exposures and 125 x 22 degrees of sky.— J-P Metsavainio (@JP_Metsavainio) March 16, 2021
My Milky Way mosaic project gets large, the full size image in my blog is absolute must to see! (7000 x 1300 pixels), https://t.co/doh6Cso1MM pic.twitter.com/K1hzlG4jJ6
Some objects were too dim to be captured and required more exposure time. For example, it took Metsavainio three years to capture the remains of one supernova. The photographer revealed that after 300 hours of observation he finally managed to obtain enough images to show clouds of debris.
Metsavainio lives 90 miles from the Arctic Circle, which is a perfect location for stargazing. According to the photographer, he works every single night capturing images of stars and does it manually using a wide-aperture telephoto lens.
"I'm a perfectionist regarding my work", he said. "I don't want to miss a single valuable clear moment due to some small software glitch", he told Insider.
Scientists don't know for certain how many stars there are in the Milky Way. According to the European Space Agency, the entire galaxy, which contains our Solar System, has about 100,000 million stars.