Welcome to the Milky Way Explorer!
You can find out more by reading the Introduction to the Milky Way Explorer.
The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) was a joint project of the US, UK and the Netherlands. Operating in 1983, the satellite successfully observed more than 96% of the sky at 4 infrared frequencies and detected about 350,000 infrared sources, most of which had never been seen before.
These images, based on the WISE data set, provide low resolution all-sky infrared images. The brightest image was released in March 2012. The other two images (Dark and Bright) are based upon "raw" FITS files released by the infrared scientist Frank Masci in 2013. Although the 2013 FITS images contain more artifacts (such as obvious plate boundaries and a misalignment at 180°), they are slightly more detailed than the original 2012 image and the lower luminosity reduces the overexposure when viewing brighter nebulae. Smaller but much more detailed images are available through the WISE image service.
The US Midcourse Science Experiment (MSX) used the SPIRIT III infrared space telescope to survey the galactic plane in 1996 and 1997. This map renders the MSX 8 mμ (A-band) data in a rainbow palette to bring out faint detail. More details on the data can be found here.
This map combines data from GLIMPSE and MIPSGAL, two major surveys of the inner galactic plane carried out using the Spitzer infrared space telescope.
This impressive visible light mosaic of the Milky Way was created by amateur astrophotographer Serge Brunier for the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. A bit ironically, visible light mosaics of the Milky Way are rarely created as professional astronomers focus on other less familiar parts of the spectrum. Brunier's image appears to be the highest resolution visible light mosaic publicly available.
Douglas Finkbeiner has provided an invaluable service by carefully stitching together the results of three recent hydrogen-alpha surveys using ultra-sensitive CCDs and robotic telescopes: WHAM, VTSS and SHASSA.Optional overlays show ionising stars (OB associations catalogued by Roberta Humphreys, ionising stars from Cameron Reed's Catalog of Galactic OB Stars and ionising clusters from Nina Kharchenko's star cluster catalog) as well as overlays showing the nebulae coordinates given in the Gum, RCW, Sharpless, BFS and Lynds Bright Nebulae catalogs as well as an integrated view combining many catalogs as explained in more detail here.
This image, based on the WISE data set, shows the galactic plane in the direction of the constellations Cepheus and Cassiopeia and was released in January 2012. Smaller but more detailed images are available through the WISE image service.
This hydrogen-alpha map shows emission from ionised hydrogen gas in the part of the galactic plane visible from the sourthern hemisphere. SuperCOSMOS is an online digital data archive of several major southern hemisphere infrared and visual spectrum photographic sky surveys. The original SuperCOSMOS project is described in a series of three scientific papers starting here, and the hydrogen-alpha extension of SuperCOSMOS is described in this additional paper.
The first comprehensive survey of carbon monoxide clouds was carried out by Columbia University astronomers Pat Thaddeus and Tom Dame using a small radio telescope mounted on a roof in downtown Manhattan (later moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts). To complete the study, they mounted a similar telescope at the Inter-American Observatory in Cerro Tololo, Chile. This map is based upon a compilation of this data and more focused studies that was released in 2001.
The Effelsberg/Parkes radio data is from two separate sources: the Effelsberg 11 cm (2.7 GHz) data from here and the lower resolution Parkes 2.4 GHz data from here. Because the Parkes data is lower resolution and has a somewhat different frequency, there are obvious transition points in the map. There are also radio height maps coloured using IRAS data.
The LAB atomic hydrogen (HI) map is derived from the Leiden/Argentine/Bonn galactic HI survey and was created from a velocity integrated (-250 km/s < v < 250 km/s) FITS file kindly supplied to Galaxy Map by Tom Dame from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The Canadian Galactic Plane Survey was carried out by the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory. This map shows radio emission at 21 cm (1.42 GHz), a frequency emitted by atomic hydrogen gas, and was constructed from the data available here.
The VLA Galactic Plane Survey was carried out by the Very Large Array. This map shows radio emission at 21 cm (1.42 GHz), a frequency emitted by atomic hydrogen gas, and was constructed from the data available here.
The Southern Galactic Plane Survey was carried out by the Australia Telescope Compact Array. This map shows radio emission at 21 cm (1.42 GHz), a frequency emitted by atomic hydrogen gas, and was constructed from the data available here.
This infrared image of the galactic core region was created using the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) with colour imagery from a previous Spitzer Space Telescope survey. It was released by NASA here.
The APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy (ATLASGAL) is currently being carried out by the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX), a 12 meter submillimeter telescope located in Chile. This map shows cold dust from ATLASGAL in red combined with infrared data from two MSX bands in blue and green. The image was released by ESO here.
This image shows the Chandra X-ray image of the galactic centre.
This image shows the NASA composite image of the galactic centre released on 10 November 2009.
This image combines 3 Fermi gamma ray frequency ranges: 0.5 to 1 GeV (red), 2 to 5 GeV (green) and 10 to 20 GeV (blue). The data is described in a draft paper by Gregory Dobler, Douglas Finkbeiner, Ilias Cholis, Tracy Slatyer and Neal Weiner, available here.