Gaze In Awe At Hubble's Most Detailed View Of The Triangulum Galaxy

NASA ESA and M. Durbin J. Dalcanton and B.F. Williams

NASA ESA and M. Durbin J. Dalcanton and B.F. Williams

The spectacular vista is in fact a giant mosaic, formed from 54 separate images created by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the best-ever image of the galaxy next door, the Triangulum galaxy (M33). The image is comprised of 665 million pixels and was created from 54 different images, a view in space so large that it spans "an area more than 19,000 light-years across".

The Triangulum Galaxy, also known as Messier 33, belongs to the Local Group - a gravitationally bound collection of more than 50 galaxies that includes the Milky Way and the nearby Andromeda Galaxy. These numbers are hard to grasp when already in this image 10 to 15 million individual stars are visible. It is the group's third-largest galaxy, but also the smallest spiral galaxy in the group.

It measures only about 60,000 light years across, compared to the 200,000 light years of the much bigger spiral Andromeda Galaxy.

Whilst both are spiral galaxies, Messier 33 differs from the Milky Way in many ways.

ESA says the Triangulum image is the second-largest ever released by Hubble and will help astronomers better understand how stars form and evolve. The Vast spiral galaxy is located just three million light-years from Earth, and can sometimes even be seen by the naked eye as a faint, nebulous object on a clear night.

The near-perfect distribution of stars within Triangulum has led researchers to believe that the galaxy has somehow avoided any major intergalactic collisions and has remained relatively untouched for aeons.

In contrast to the two larger spirals, the Triangulum Galaxy doesn't have a bright bulge at its center and it also lacks a bar connecting its spiral arms to the center.

In the past, star-formation histories in the Local Group have been measured one galaxy at a time, often using different analysis techniques.

Usually when astronomers talk about our neighbouring galaxy, they're talking about Andromeda, which is a cozy 2.5 million light-years away.

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