UKIRT, the UK InfraRed Telescope which sits on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, has recently released a set of data from the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey (UKIDSS).
For the past five years, UKIRT has been scanning the sky systematically in five different infrared windows. By the end of the survey in 2012 it will have scanned a huge volume of sky and produced 16 times as much data as it has released this week.
According to the press release, this data release contains
large amounts of data on the Milky Way, with millions of stars, young stars and other objects seen clearly through the thick veils of dust which block the Milky Way to visible light
UKIDSS, as a survey, was designed to utilise UKIRTS’s technical capabilities and specifically to use WFCAM, the telescope’s Wide Field Camera. WFCAM – a panoramic infrared camera – was developed at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh at a cost of £5M.
The image above shows a globular cluster observed as part of the UKIDSS release. This particular cluster can be found in the constellation of Aquila and lies about 9,000 light years away.
The JAC press release can be found here.