One look at the image below, and at a glance, it may look like something created by a digital artist. It is a real image of the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in, created by a Finnish astrophotographer named JP Metsavainio. The single image of the Milky Way is 1.7 gigapixels and what you see below is only part of it.
The full picture can be seen here, and it’s worth a look As for why it took more than a decade to make the image, the digital artist says the size of the mosaic and the fact that it is very deep contributed. Since the section of the sky he photographed is so huge, most of it was shot as single frame compositions and previously published as standalone works of art.
Metsavainio also said that some of the objects in the Milky Way required more exposure than others because they appeared dimmer and were more difficult to see. An example he gives is a single supernova remnant that took more than 60 hours of exposure. There are some incredible images of various celestial objects in the Milky Way, including the California Nebula, the Pelican Nebula, and the Wizard Nebula, among others.
It is incredibly impressive that a photographer with equipment available to most people can take such incredibly detailed images. Metsavainio has a website where it shows some of the individual images in the larger overall compositions.
Some of the images show individual shots and panels that were used to compose the larger image. The finished panel is so detailed that it looks like something NASA would have taken using the Hubble Space Telescope.