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The Infrared Universe
This panoramic view encompasses the entire sky and reveals the distribution of galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, which astronomers call extended sources, as observed by Two Micron All-Sky Survey. The distribution of galaxies is not random. Many galaxies are gravitationally bound together to form clusters, which themselves are loosely bound into superclusters, which in turn are sometimes seen to align over even larger scale structures.
The blue region represents the very close and bright stars from our own Milky Way galaxy. In this projection, the bluish band of the Milky Way decends through the middle of the image, divides and goes up around the edges, and comes together at the top.
The image is assembled from a database of over 1.6 million galaxies listed in the survey's All-Sky Survey Extended Source Catalog; more than half of the galaxies have never before been catalogued. The colors represent how the many galaxies appear at three distinct wavelengths of infrared light (blue at 1.2 microns, green at 1.6 microns, and red at 2.2 microns).