Andromeda Galaxy Shines In Nosehair-Closeup Glory

Woah, is that ever close! The Hubble Space Telescope’s new picture of the Andromeda Galaxy makes us feel as though we’re hovering right above the iconic structure, which is visible with the naked eye from Earth under the right conditions.

Just to show you how awesome this close-up is, we’ve posted a picture below the jump showing what is the typical view of M31 in a more modest telescope.

“This ambitious photographic cartography of the Andromeda galaxy represents a new benchmark for precision studies of large spiral galaxies that dominate the universe’s population of over 100 billion galaxies,” stated the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which operates the telescope.

“Never before have astronomers been able to see individual stars inside an external spiral galaxy over such a large contiguous area. Most of the stars in the universe live inside such majestic star cities, and this is the first data that reveal populations of stars in context to their home galaxy.”

M31 (image credit: Noel Carboni).

Andromeda is about 2.5 million light-years from us and on a collision course with our galaxy. The image at the top of this story is actually not a single picture; it was assembled from an astounding 7,398 exposures taken over 411 individual pointings, according to STScI.

The image is so big, in fact, that there’s a zoomable version that was released separately so that you can get a better sense of how high-definition this view is. Dontcha wish you could take a light-travel ship and see this thing up close, for real?

Sources: Space Telescope Science Institute and Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre

Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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