This image is from observations made by the COBE satellite. COBE was launched by NASA in November, 1989. It was designed to study the radiation believed to be a remnant of the explosion that started the expansion of the universe. In scientific terms, it measured the diffuse infrared and microwave background radiation.
The image we have on our site is a near-infrared image of the Milky Way. It shows the Milky Way from an edge-on perspective with the north pole of our galaxy at the top and the south pole at the bottom. At near-infrared wavelengths, the dominant source of light is stars within our galaxy. Even though our solar system is part of the Milky Way, the view looks distant because most of the light comes from the population of stars that are closer to the galactic center (the big bulge in the middle of the disk) than our own Sun.
The StarChild site is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC.
The StarChild Team
StarChild Graphics & Music: Acknowledgments
StarChild Project Leader: Dr. Laura A. Whitlock
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman