Researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford, California have captured the world's largest single-shot image. Comprised of 3,200 megapixels (MP), the image was captured using an array of 189 imaging sensors that are being developed to be integrated into the world’s largest digital camera that is currently under construction at SLAC.
The gargantuan sensor required to capture 3,200 MP shots is more than two feet wide and its focal plane is enormous, large enough to capture the size of a portion of a sky equivalent to 40 full moons. Strictly speaking, the sensor contains 189 individual 16MP sensors, or charge-coupled devices (CCDs), and each individual pixel is about 10 microns wide. To put this all into perspective:
The images are so large that it would take 378 4K ultra-high-definition TV screens to display one of them in full size, and their resolution is so high that you could see a golf ball from about 15 miles away.
Using this gargantuan sensor, the researchers captured a variety of different subjects, including the intricate head of Romanesco (broccoli) and a photo of Vera Rubin, who was one of the key figures in the discovery of dark matter. Given the size of the photos, the team has developed a web app that will allow you to check out the incredibly detailed pictures. You may click on the links below to be redirected to the photo viewer.
- Head of Romanesco
- Flammarion engraving
- Vera Rubin
- LSST Camera team photos
- Logos of institutions involved in the LSST Camera project
These pictures are were taken as a test-run once the initial assembly of the image sensor was completed at SLAC Laboratory. The raison d'être for this sensor, however, is at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile in mid-2021, where it will produce one panoramic image of the complete Southern sky every few nights for 10 years, capturing over 20 billion galaxies. The aim of this entire initiative is to further our understanding of dark matter, dark energy, and the cosmos in general. For more details, you may check out this webpage.